Trusting Strangers on the Internet

I simply approve every request. You can always delete them later. And you might be missing out on something very interesting that someone will one day post. I mean, just look at their info, and posts, and see if they seem genuine, and if they share some interests in common with you. If one feels that no one can be trusted, then the Internet is not the place to be.

Besides, in my situation, everyone who is an alumnus of St. John’s Annapolis or Santa Fe Great Books program automatically shares something in common with me. How will you ever meet new and interesting people if you never trust anyone? Is it not the case that all of your friends were, at one point, a stranger that you got to know? I am a stranger to 6 billion people on the planet, but that does not make me strange. And a large percentage of violent crimes are perpetrated by relatives or acquaintances.

I have been on the Internet non-stop since 1998, and I always talked to everyone who approached me. An online friend from University of Oulu, Finland came with his 11 yr. old son and stayed at my apartment for a few days to save on hotel costs. I went to Tampa, FL once and had dinner with 3 yahoo chat acquaintances. An AOL friend from Great Britain spent the day with me while visiting NY. And I am guessing that about 50,000 people over the past 10 years have read my blogs on philosophy, religion, poetry, etc. I have never regretted giving everyone a chance.

What would Jesus have done? The Samaritan women at the well, the adulteress, about to be stoned, Zaccheus the tax collector, the Ethiopian eunuch in his chariot reading Isaiah, Apostles Andrew and Nathaniel…. they were ALL TOTAL STRANGERS! America amazes me, because we pay such lip service to Christianity and demand that our presidential candidates take Jesus as their personal savior, but what do we choose to do in daily life? Don’t get me wrong. I am Hindu and Buddhist in my personal beliefs. Gandhi rejected Christianity as his personal religion but the beatitudes of the sermon on the mount were his favorite. Kurt Vonnegut wryly observed that Americans clamor to erect monuments to Moses’ ten commandments, but no one thinks to have a plaque for the Jesus’s Beatitudes.

The Torah and Talmud say to welcome the stranger so don’t any of you weasel out of this by saying you are Jewish.

Dennis the Menace asked someone “are you a stranger”. The old man replied “No, I’ve lived her all my life.” Dennis said “Good, ’cause my Mom says not to talk to strangers.”

It’s like the Lotto ad says, “You can’t win if you don’t play.”

One of my tutor’s at St. John’s, Mr. Main I think, said in seminar “you can’t have too much money or too much whiskey.” I guess I would add to that sentiment that you can’t have too many friends (though you can have too many enemies). Lincoln said “If I make my enemy into my friend, then have I not destroyed my enemy?”

My practice for years is to pick up a book at random, a book I might not otherwise read, open it and read a page at random, and try to understand something from that page.

People on Facebook and Myspace are like books. I randomly look at what some of the 1000 people on my list are saying, and I am glimpsing into the soul and life and heart of that person. They mention something entirely new to me. I look at something in a way that I have never seen before. I Google and read some. I reflect, react and post. Others randomly read my thoughts.

These activities are very enriching. Even a fool has something to teach a wise man.

Where would philosophy be today if Socrates had said to The Eleatic Stranger, “Oh, sorry, I can’t talk to you ’cause you’re a stranger.”

Somewhere in the Talmud it is observed that “when a great king stamps out coins with his image on them, each coin is the same, but when G-d creates people in His image, each and every one is different.” Now, YOU are a stranger to all the people who might possibly add YOU. Do you feel they should FEAR you?

No, of course not. And you know that you are totally unique. There has NEVER been another person just like YOU, and there never shall be. And you have much to offer others.

Aristotle said, “A friend is another I.” Well, consider the reflexivity of this I-Thou relationship. As we esteem others, so, in a labyrinthine fashion, we come to esteem ourselves.

There is a saying in India, “When a saint meets a sinner, all he sees is saintliness, but when a sinner meets a saint, all he sees is sin.”

Also, “when a pickpocket meets a saint, all he sees are pockets.”

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2 Responses to “Trusting Strangers on the Internet”

  1. Geetanjali Says:

    …and I found you, so what if I know little about the internet & cant cope up, you are a pet and a living reality in my conscience.

  2. teo Says:

    I’m so with you on that one, but normaly people think you’re crazy or that something’s wrong with you, if you talk to strangers on the internet. At least in Germany sometimes the virtual safety is taken a little bit too serious and is being exaggerated. The world needs more people like you ;)

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