I recently read a small but fascinating book called When Strangers Meet by Kio Stark. Stark writes eloquently of the importance of keeping ourselves open to communication with people we don’t know, at random places and times in our lives, i.e., of the psychological advantages of cultivating a stance of alert open-mindedness toward other people, everywhere we go. The foundation of any genuinely humane and rational approach to living in the world of people is to foster a certain amount of humane curiosity about the full diversity of human beings, what Stark refers to as “being a citizen of the world.” Even when we are with people we already know, or think we know, it’s good to keep a healthy open-mindedness about them. When I see strangers on the street I usually find myself wondering what kind of person are you? In the world of human beings it is the most important question. And even when I get home and I happen to see myself in a mirror, I still have that question in my mind and I find I’m even asking what kind of person are you? of myself. The good thing about this question, even asked of oneself, is that it’s always open-ended. There’s never a definitive answer, but to keep asking it is to encourage the multitude of delicate, subtle, and often mysterious connections among human beings.

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