It all seemed like such fun that the student started broadcasting flight plans of other celebrities.
And why should we care? After all, those followed were filthy rich so there was some comfort and a lot of fun seeing them made uneasy by a mere college student.
Recently the student went after Taylor Swift’s flight plans. Now I don’t follow Swift or listen to her music. But from what little I’ve gleaned she is a talented musician and a good person. She contributes big money to charities. She encourages young people to vote. She inspired Donald Trump to declare, I imagine with some trepidation, “She would never vote for Biden.” She thrills the nation by having an uncomplicated romance with an NFL player. And she’s suing the college student.
Well, one reason given is it puts her at risk as the general public will know when she will be where. And there are so many disturbed people with guns ready to use them. Perhaps even for pursuit of a political agenda.
And it was here where I began to think about this. I decided that the student was thoughtless. He either didn’t think of the harm he might be doing, or he didn’t care. Either way it was thoughtless. He placed his own satisfaction before the possible harm he was inflicting.
Then I realized most of us do the same thing. Oh, not in publishing flight schedules of famous people. Little things mainly, not likely to make headlines. Like not allowing another car to merge or switch lanes. Like, in a “Ticked Off” column in our paper, people vent about the actions of others using descriptive words such as “idiot” or “ignorant” or “jealous.” Like using words like “elderly” or worse to characterize anyone in a certain group of people. Often these examples correspond to situations where there is no attempt to inflict harm, but they are thoughtless because no consideration is given to the negative effects they might have on others.
Sometimes self-interest gets in the way of being thoughtful. Our college student may be in that situation. After all, he probably is making money off his posting of celebrities’ travels. Or how about the college football players who refuse to participate in bowl games because they want to enter the NFL draft or transfer portal? In these cases, a moral choice is made, perhaps unrecognized, not to be thoughtful. Not to the celebrities in the first case and the ardent fans in the second. I can understand the angst with which such a decision must be made, especially if a way out of poverty can be envisioned. However, I’m afraid that in those decisions very little consideration is given to the effect of the decision on others.
There are some to whom the concept of being thoughtful has no meaning. A past president of the United States comes to mind. I doubt he ever gives a moment’s consideration to being thoughtful.
However, most of us plow through life not making waves, just trying to live the best we can. But we do have the ability to take small thoughtful actions that are important because they recognize the humanity of others. We can, for example, let that car merge.
If we all act this way, even imperfectly, just maybe we can raise the level of civility in our society a little where it is so desperately needed.