Commentary: The eyes of babes

Whether I’m at the post office, supermarket or bowling alley, I try to make gentle eye contact with all those who cross my path, strangers included. Though this simple, friendly gesture takes only a second, I’m amazed at how few reciprocate.

If you’ve tried, you know that making contact is not as easy as you would think and if you haven’t, well … you might just be one of “them.” Since our heads and eyes move with such ease, avoiding eye contact for the uninterested person is easy, even if they’ve been secretly studying you before your attempt to engage.

Some individuals stare straight ahead as if in a total fog, others who may feel their privacy is being invaded will suddenly find a need to focus on the ceiling, floor, wristwatch, bag of potatoes or, like the lady walking out of the post office just yesterday, a smartphone, anything but the onlooker, as if they just can’t be bothered.

Now that I’m older and grayer, making eye contact has become slightly more difficult, that is, unless the recipient of my smiling eyes is also old and gray, but still, there’s no guarantee. Younger individuals often appear hypnotized and want little if nothing to do with anyone outside an immediate circle of friends and. of course, their technological device, but I still try.

Conversely, when I look into the eyes of an infant in a passing shopping cart or stroller, I feel a sense of hope. Not yet contaminated by the rules of the outside world, they innocently know exactly what to do. Inherently polite, civil and loving, they are eager to reciprocate and often respond with a smile, that is, until mom (or dad) takes notice and whisks their attention away as if to say, “don’t look at him, he’s a stranger.” Is there something we can learn from the eyes of babes?

Born in the early 50s, I’m old enough to know that civility was once a priority in our country. TV shows like “Father Knows Best” and “Leave it to Beaver” to name a few, made conscious attempts to teach civil behavior. Today’s commercial media clearly flaunts incivility to satisfy our hunger and increase ratings.

According to ancient truths, humans are much more connected than they appear to be and think they are. Due to conditioning, we may be shy, fearful or too busy and that’s OK, but the truth is, we are all spiritual beings first. To initiate positive change for a more pleasant and peaceful environment, people need to recognize the importance and necessity of connecting with their fellow man.

Nothing will change our dysfunctional world until we recognize and understand that regardless of social and cultural borders such as economics, political persuasion, religious beliefs, age or even the pigmentation of our epidermis, we are all divinely connected. The more we understand this the happier we’ll be. A good way to feel this sense of spiritual connection is by recognizing your own and each other’s “divine presence.” With practice, looking into another’s eyes can feel as natural and wondrous as witnessing the blossoming beauty and scent of the very first flower.

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