Something has started to happen, and I hardly noticed it until one morning my dear M pointed it out to me on our way to get coffee after dropping the kids off from school. He said I was becoming conservative.
I'm worried he may be right.
We have in this beautiful city in northern Italy, just enough of everything. A duomo, a castle, a big green park. Schools, hospital, police. Supermarkets and farmers markets and even too much shopping. Buses and a train station....
We also have a complete collection of eclectics that every city needs. Musicians, politicians, artisans, hippys, punks, drunks, preps, yuppies, priests. The very rich and the very poor.
I've never lived in a city before. A real city where I walked or took the bus everyday. A city where I interact with all these different people every day. And I love it.
My concern is that there are a the handful of people that ask me for money. Every day. More than ask. They harass me. They jump into my conversations with friends, they wait for me outside of the bar, they sidle up to me at the market and whine and mumble in my ear. Tell me stories about how they just arrived last night and they can't find the friend they're looking for. They need money for a ticket. For food. They plead their case.
M noticed that I'm no longer listening. Even shooting a dirty look or two.
This hard truth makes me a bit sick. I don't like being preyed on. I know that if I smile, show a bit of kindness, or sometimes even just recognize their exhistence, they will follow me for a block.
I'm not happy with this development. This is not how I believe people should act. Problem is I only know what I don't like and I'm having a hard time coming up with an alternative I do like. Maybe I need an urban society mentor.
Is there a class out there on how to be a compassionate urban citizen?
Because there should be more than these two choices. There has to be something between feeding a bad system and ignoring it.