During one summer in college, I worked as a buss-boy and bar-back at a Mexican restaurant in Ocean City, MD. It was kind of ironic that in a popular Mexican restaurant, all of the cooks, wait-staff and buss-boys were American or Scottish. The mixture of different groups of people made for an interesting work environment. I learned a lot in that job about how people relate.
On one particular night as we were closing up, a popular song came on the radio called “Closing time”. One of the dishwashers, a fifteen year old, was singing along as he waited for his ride. He was almost instantly chastised by a cook because he “didn’t understand what closing time was all about!” The entire exchange was a little weird. As someone who had experienced closing time, I didn’t see why the cook was making such a big deal out of it. For whatever reason, membership in the ‘closing time’ club was important to this guy. He let the poor dishwasher know in no uncertain terms that he was not part of the club.
Human beings are communal animals. We often identify very heavily by our affiliations. Depending on your preferences, you might be part of the GOP, PTA, NRA, FFA, CIA, NAACP or a thousand other acronyms. There’s also a possibility that you fly the American, Confederate, Rainbow, Mexican or Peace Flag. Most of these communities are exclusive and have trouble accepting the existence of their counterparts. Our differences separate us in many ways. Just like the cook who thought his perception of closing time was something that was important enough to put he and the dishwasher on different planes. Our communities that we choose define us in many ways but in the end we are all human.
As I think more and more about the state of the world and our place in it, one thought reverberates: in most cases, we are our only predators. For the most part, we conquered nature in so many ways that we basically no longer worry about predators. It is only the people that are different from us that cause a challenge, a threat or fear. We seem determined to take our differences to the extreme in order to invite or possibly even cause our own closing time. Are our differences so important as to bring the end to another, ourselves or everyone? I believe there are causes that warrant the ultimate sacrifice. On the other hand, are there sacrifices that are completely unwarranted? Is destroying your enemy’s boat so important when you share that boat?
I was just thinking….