We are bombarded from so many different angles, and on so many different levels in our lives, that we quickly lose the capacity to process minute detail. When that happens, whether on purpose or by accident, we begin to tune out. We become desensitized by our experiences, and that’s when it becomes a problem. We no longer recoil in horror at seeing a murder in a movie, because we’ve seen it so many times. There was a time when I would never see an “R” rated movie because of the blood and violence. Yet today, they seem run-of-the-mill. We even look forward to watching our favorite horror movies around Halloween.

I suppose one of the good things about this problem of “tuning out” is it can clear our minds of the irrational fear in order to focus better on the rational solution. If we find ourselves in a situation, we can skip right past the screams and the feinting, and get right to the “now what do I need to do?”

The bigger problem comes when we “tune out” from society, itself. We see so many homeless, so many hungry, in our daily lives and we have a tendency to tune them out so we can get on with our lives. We figure if we don’t look at them, they won’t bother us. Or if they start talking to us, we can ignore them and keep walking. If we don’t look at them, we won’t see them, and we won’t have to realize that they are human – just like us.

For instance, just the other morning Hubby was on his way to work. Getting off the train, he decided then and there that he was going to treat himself to a breakfast sandwich like he hadn’t had in a long time. So he gets into the very long line at the Drunken Donuts to wait his turn to order.

In the mean time, a man (who was apparently homeless) came into the restaurant and was talking with patrons in line who were clearly ignoring him as if he wasn’t even there.

Eventually, Hubby could hear what he was saying to people as he was getting closer (and each person putting him off or ignoring him, not even listening to what he was saying): “Excuse me… I’m not asking for money. I just want something to eat.”

So Hubby listened to him, then told him that he would be happy to buy him anything he wanted on the menu. The man thanked him, but asked if he could buy him breakfast at a diner down the way where he could get eggs and grits…. Hubby didn’t bat an eyelash and agreed. He would just get his breakfast at Drunken Donuts and then they would go to the diner and he could get whatever he wanted.

It was heart-wrenching to hear fellow human beings literally ignoring someone who was hungry; someone who wasn’t asking for money, but for a simple meal.

It’s okay for us to tune out of the mundane and boring things of life that continue to surround us. Or even the horrors of Halloween movies and games. But when we do it to people who are standing right by us, asking us a question, so that we don’t have to recognize a need, then it becomes a serious problem. There’s no reason for such hunger to exist in this land. And when someone comes to us who just wants to eat, how can we turn our backs on them and push them away?

Perhaps we need to start tuning in again.