There Are Always Bystanders
May 09, 2014
I recently finished a quick read of the Gospel of Mark and was struck by Jesus' careful awareness of bystanders. In Mark 10:17-22, for example, Jesus is approached by an individual and has a short, intense conversation with him about wealth. The next thing Jesus does is "look around" to see who was watching. Later in the chapter (10:39-42), he says something that upsets the people who overheard his conversation, so he calls them over to straighten it out.
At the grocery store, at the intersection, around the table, at the back of the class...there are always people who notice most, if not all, of what we do. I think it is important to do my best, knowing that I am being observed, but what these passages point out is that there will sometimes be misunderstandings. While we can't straighten out everything, when we can, I think we should.
How we live, what we say, what we do and what we don't do all matter. We have to assume at all times that people are watching. Going the "extra mile," I think we also need to pay attention to our impact after the fact and at times intervene. As the philosopher Yogi Berra once said, "You can observe a lot just by watching." It is important to observe who is watching, and if needed, explain.