As I sit in my car and wait for my 8 year old daughter to get out of school, I find myself reflecting on an extra TED Talk I watched yesterday ( FYI- I have become slightly addicted to these TED Talks). This particular TED Talk was given by a woman named Kio Stark & was about why we should talk to strangers. Sounds a little counter-intuitive, right?? I think it’s worth the 11 or 12 minutes viewing time to find out if your perspective may change from that of “Stranger Danger” to one of “Love one another”.
While spending time studying Colossians Chapter 2 for my ILP I was reminded that love is an action not just an emotion. It is how we treat others, not just what we say. Of course this comes natural (at least most of the time) when it comes to our family, friends, or loved ones, but what about the man or woman walking toward us on the sidewalk or the cashier at the shopping mall, or even the homeless man standing on the corner begging for food or money?
There has been for years now a movement towards world peace & unity, towards love for our fellow human being so why do we struggle to make a connection with people we don’t know that we make daily with our loved ones? How will the world ever come to a place of peace and acceptance if we struggle just to have a short conversation with a stranger from time to time? I love that Stark talks about how sometimes we may be more inclined to share something personal with a stranger than someone we talk to on a regular basis. She sells this whole idea effectively as something that can benefit us individually but also as a society. My personal thought is to think of it on another level: Imagine that stranger is living with depression or going through a terrible time and they’re just hoping that someone, anyone will notice them and actually engage them in a meaningful conversation. I recently heard a true story similar to this situation in a mental health training class I took. The young man involved was severely depressed and had no idea why but every day he considered ending his own life until one day, he got on a bus and headed to a bridge. His plan was to jump off of this bridge but along the way, he hoped and prayed that just one person would speak to him and ask him if he was okay or just make small talk with him. If this were to happen, he vowed to himself that he would not jump off of that bridge. Sadly, no one spoke to the young man and he did jump off of that bridge. However, that young man did live to tell his story to others. Now, what if you had been one of those strangers on the bus with him that fateful day? What if you could impact a complete stranger’s life THAT drastically just by speaking to them? I’m not suggesting that we hold ourselves responsible for other’s mental health but how hard is it really to just make eye contact, smile, and start up a conversation?
Love is a verb. It is an action that can be carried out by a hug, a handshake, a kind gesture, or even…a conversation with a stranger.