A Day In The Crowd

It is a moderately warm day of 95° here in Las Cruses, New Mexico. And I’m sitting in the shade and enjoying the sights and sounds while drinking an iced mocha I’ve gotten from my favorite coffee vendor. I’m at the farmers market this morning. And I haven’t been for a while, so big treat for me.

I’m listening to a couple of young men nearby who might be in their college jazz ensemble. They’re improvising on alto sax and upright bass, and they’re pretty good. Just across from me is our new plaza. At one end is an area that has water shooting maybe five feet into the air from five or six jets. Little kids running through the water, having a great time. There’s a place where the grown-ups can sit without getting too wet.

I leave the shade and get into the crowd to do some produce shopping. I buy somemarket2 cucumbers and tomatoes from one of our favorite farmers. The family is from Taiwan. I have a dear friend who lived in Taipei for a year or two, so I feel like I know something about it. It is a most beautiful place.

Then I go on to another farmer who has good Swiss chard. She saves some for me in case I’m running late. Today I buy some okra, too. When I ask , she gives me tips on cooking it. It’s one of her greenhouse crops, so she has it year round.

There are a lot of buskers at the market, and I walk by another duo. These two are acoustic guitar/vocals and electric guitar. And they’re into a rendition of Samba Pa Ti.

I have a practice of trying to see the good in people. I look at someone – usually from a distance – and try to perceive the essential humanity within that person. There are many beautiful people here at the market, so I have lots of opportunity to practice. Try it. Look at someone with as much openness as you can. Try to see the good within that person. You might see it for only a second. (This works the same way with strangers as it does with the people you know.) When I can get it, it is a connection. The experience is that of an intuitive knowing of the essential goodness of the other. With some people it is easy; with some it is not so easy.

Our conditioning and biases and preferences and fears can obscure what we might otherwise see.  This is part of the difficulty in seeing the essential goodness in others.  There might be a presumption of being less than good, less than us, where some group is concerned.  There are entire groups of people whose human worth we learn to devalue on the basis of race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political allegiance, etc. You can probably add to the list.

Seeing the innate essential goodness in some individuals can take some doing, too. We often take a zero-sum approach in considering others. If the individual has acted in ways that are destructive, we might believe that the person’s human worth has been reduced by like amount.

This all raises a couple of questions: Is there an essential human goodness that cannot be corrupted? Are there some people forever beyond redemption? How any of us might answer such questions is important to us all.

Much of what we do could be considered an effort to know the truth. I think that’s what this is. I am convinced of an incorruptible spark of the humane within all of us, and I’m trying to directly experience the truth of it. I am convinced of the interbeing of humanity and of all beings. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, we inter-are. We are of each other on this long trip through space and time. And I believe that there is good reason to believe that our essential humanity will prevail.




10 responses to “A Day In The Crowd

    • We know how important what we eat is for our health. Well, when it comes to the news of the day I need to improve my diet. Because this diet of sensational negativism is making me sick. I don’t want to not know about it, but I need to restore some balance.


  1. I am trying to imagine the goodness in the young man who drove his car into the protestors in Charlottesville and killed a woman. I am not having an easy time of it. I am trying to see the goodness in the overweight people I see with cartoons of soda. That is a bit easier.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes. Very difficult. But we don’t expect mastery at the beginning of a practice, so don’t feel that you’ve come up short in any way. The doing of it is most important. Remember how Arjuna was taught to pay attention to his present effort and not focus on outcomes. I like to practice this when I can see and be near to my subject. That helps me. Doing this at a distance might be more difficult..


  2. I can almost hear the rifts and bustle of your rich community. Thank you David. I am sooo happy that you got to spend time in the thick of it absorbing all the energy of life. I share in your striving of seeing the light that shines within each of us and it certainly is in dark times that the light can shine brightest. Thank you for the reminder to stay open to the goodness that lives in each being. Also for the exercise of looking for it daily. I know the more we focus on the light the more it will seep into our life. Wishing you more days of exploring and observing in the streets of town . Love and gratitude, Kam♥️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beautifully said, my friend. It’s when things get rough that we most need to be mindful of our values. And as you say, what we hold our attention on matters. Blessings to you and to Craig. Really nice that you dropped by. Kinda makes my day. 🙂


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