When we were young, many of us were taught not to talk to strangers. This is good advice for children. The problem is, in our culture, for many, this admonition remained as a way of life.
We stand in lines, in the bank, the grocery store or the coffee place, staring blankly off into the distance, careful not to make eye contact with any of the “strangers” standing there with us.
The fact is, these “strangers” are members of our community, with the same stresses, demands and time pressures as the rest of us. Occasionally there is one who is outgoing, cheerful, perhaps with a sense of humor—who speaks to the line in general, snapping us all out of our “don’t-talk-to-strangers” trance.
Suddenly everyone relaxes, smiles, and perhaps makes a comment to the one next to him or her. For that moment, we are all connected. It feels warm and good. Our hearts open, just a little. This is good for our stress levels, and even for our immune systems .
Perhaps, now that we are grown up, we should toss the old rule, and begin talking to strangers (using common sense, of course.) It is a kindness , and an acknowledgement that there is another human being in our presence. Even if we have never met, a fellow human is deserving of a smile and a nod, at the very least.
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