|Tadeus Langier, Zakopane |
by Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Saturday evening, out on the town, we had finished dinner and were strolling to the theater. I was about to draw my wife's attention to the dead body on the sidewalk across the street, then thought better of it.
We were on the northeast corner of Dearborn and Lake, heading to the Goodman Theatre, attempting to cross west, when we came upon the tableau. The cop standing beside the corpse gestured for us to go south instead. We took his direction. Acting on instinct, I raised my iPhone up and snapped a photo: cop, yellow tape, 7-Eleven, police SUV, and a body wrapped in a white sheet.
It didn't take a sleuth to figure out where it came from. Balconies directly above. It was St. Patrick's Day. We had threaded our way through mobs of costumed revelers, lining up to get into places I never imagined anyone would line up to get into. Moe's? Really?
So either suicide or tragic, booze-induced, hey-look-I-can-balance-on-this-railing accident.
A photo wants to be shared. I considered posting it to social media, Facebook and Twitter, with a wry remark about Chicago on a Saturday night. But I immediately dismissed that idea, for a value that doesn't get touted as much as it should: because there are people other than myself, friends and family members of the man on the sidewalk. They were about to get the worst news of their lives. Why add a note of indifference if not mockery just so I can flash sardonic?
Lately I've been thinking that people can be roughly divided into two types: those who sympathize with others and those who don't. Those who can shift their perspective away from themselves to contemplate the condition of someone else. And those whose small well of sympathy is drained dry sprinkling concern over themselves and those immediately around them.
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