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Living in a huge city like New York often makes people feel isolated. They separate themselves from others by blocking their hearing with an I-pod and their vision of the world with their sunglasses. What's even worse, we often block our heart from those who ask for our help. It is so easy to pass by a homeless person making a statement, "They should be working instead," or to wait for others to call the dispatcher if someone is having a heart attack in a subway car.
I remember a saying from a book I read while being at high school, which stated, "Don't be afraid of your friends: the worst they can do is to betray you. Don't be afraid of your enemies: the worst they can do is to kill you. Do be afraid of those indifferent: they neither kill nor betray, but with their silent agreement murder and treason exist in the world." If we are being indifferent, if we separate ourselves from the world around us, we may not be directly hurting our fellowmen, but we definitely deprive them of something they need: attention, help or even acknowledgment of their existence.
Imagine that you are in an unfamiliar city. You have just gotten off a bus and you have no idea where to go. You know the address of a friend who is waiting for you, but you don't have a cell phone and you have no clue how to get to your destination. You tried to stop people passing by and ask them for directions, but they ignored you, as though you weren't there at all. You finally decided to call your friend from a pay phone, but you needed quarters, and no one was willing to give you change for a dollar. You wanted to buy a map, but where were they sold? You feel frustrated and no one cares.
Scary to imagine, isn't it?
Scary, but useful, I must say. Imagining that you will understand how others feel while asking you for help. Explain to your college mate the material he or she cannot comprehend and you can, assist an elderly woman trying to get on a bus, give up your seat for a pregnant lady, or merely smile at a stranger, - those are the little things that don't cost you money, but make the world a tiny bit better place.
Whatever you do, don't be indifferent, as indifference is your worst enemy.