The man in the SUV

On a recent visit with my family to a theme park I had to consider various issues which posed challenging questions. Here is one of them – individual responsibility.

We had a hotel booked near to the park and so we stopped until the park closed for the evening. A mistake. Everyone left at the same time and the traffic management of the car parks was non existent – it was every family for themselves.

As I queued to get out I watched a young family approach their huge SUV with ultra shiny alloy wheels and personalised number plate. After everyone had got in the truck I noticed the man nonchalantly throw his empty beer cans out of the vehicle and onto the car park. I was appalled.

This man had everything and it still wasn’t enough; he had to trash the environment for everyone else. He then set off and drove the wrong way up a one way system to bully his way into the queue.

As I reflected on the hopelessness of converting such a selfish individual to any sort of communal responsibility, I couldn’t help thinking of someone like Dick Cheney. He was made out of the same material as the man driving the SUV but instead of dumping litter, he dumps bombs.

Sometime later I had a rethink. The original guy might have had had everything materially but spiritually he must have been dirt poor. Perhaps I should have felt pity for him instead of rage. Perhaps what I actually saw was one of those terrible images on the television of a starving child crying for food, but his hunger was for soul food, the bony skeleton of his ego sticking out of his spiritual nakedness.

The challenging question was this; how do I help this man? He probably doesn’t even know that he is so starved of spirituality that he is near death. Should I try to help him?

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