In a small village of about 300 residents, the locals lighten up every June 27, with an excited yet nervous mood. The villagers gather together in the square in the beautiful summer breeze, where children pile up stones as the adult townsfolk assemble for their annual town lottery.
As Mr. Summers, the coal merchant, arrives at the square with the postmaster Mr. Graves, the lottery seems to begin at long last. Mr. Summers mixes up the slips of paper in the box, and is about to call out the official start of this year’s lottery. Just then, a small mid-aged woman, Tessie Hutchinson, scurries to join the crowd, clearly embarrassed that she had forgotten the event.
The lottery begins as the heads of every household draw one slip from the box. After waiting for the last slip to be drawn, the slips are unfolded. Only one among them finds a black dot on the slip, this time being Bill Hutchinson. His wife, Tessie, protests that Mr. Summers rushed him through the drawing, but is soon dismissed.
For the final drawing, one slip is placed in the box for five people: Bill, Tessie, and their three children. Each of the five draws a slip, and soon finds out that Tessie has drawn the paper marked with a black dot.
Under the instruction of Mr. Summers, the townspeople grab the gathered stones and gang up on Tessie, who stands in a clearing in the middle of the crowd, screaming the injustice of the lottery as she gets hit in the head multiple times with rocks thrown at her.
Let’s admit it, yes, it is fiction. It’s a short story written by Shirley Jackson, the novel entitled “The Lottery.” One of the most brutal aspects of the novel is not the scenery of killing a live person with stones, but the blind obedience to tradition among the villagers. The scapegoat in the novel, Tessie, highly protests and asserts the injustice of the lottery. Would she have done that even if she were not elected? I guess not.
Humans naturally are not empathetic towards strangers. Most human beings do not care about a tragedy or disaster unless it affects them in some way. Why?
Paradoxically, humans are social animals that seek interaction among their kind. It is the sharing of emotions that roots to this fact. When communicating with energetic people, humans share healthy emotions, unlike when they relate to pessimistic people, where they share a piece of dark energy.
When it comes to dealing with other people’s problems, or in cases, ignoring them, the world is crazy but we are too busy with our assignments, classes, quizzes, exams, and smartphones to care about what is happening beyond our lives. Gun violence, domestic abuse, child abuse, dating abuse. We know it is important. We just cannot afford to care about things that are not happening to us.
The point here is, I care about what happens to other human beings, not because I am an original Nightingale, but because I fear that someday ahead, I may be the human being in need of a stranger’s help. Not that much of an angel, huh? But I dare tell you to care for others, even if it is for your own good.
As a fellow human being, I appeal to you, any of you, to stop being a person fighting for his or her space in the cold world, but to be a human once in a while. To look up from your smartphone and look around yourself. To feel what others feel at this moment. To breathe in the weather just like you did when you were a kid.
Why are people so indifferent about other people’s business? Because we label it “somebody else’s business.” Start looking around. Who knows? Maybe it’s worth a try. That’s why I care.