This week I had to grapple with a couple local bureaucracies. I should add that I'm in one of those states in which small-statism is shrinking the staff while herding people through the system more than ever. In any case, I expected a nightmare.
It wasn't easy, and I don't want to ignore that the slight stability I've found in my life always makes acting calmly a bit easier, but I steeled myself to deal with the individuals I met as individuals. On two interactions with unholy state institutions and in one with a local business I found myself treated in return as an individual. I won't say I caused their kindness--I didn't--but I certainly didn't try to dissuade them. I explained my situation. I expected nothing. I just did my best to get through. And people helped me.
This is simply anecdotal, but it felt good to be cut a little slack. There are plenty of people in this world who need to be cut a bit more than I do, but anyway, I emerged from a few transactions with impersonal powers with my faith in individuals affirmed. If you see my former posts as bleak, it's because I intended them to be. I remain confident of the flaws in mass society and the intrinsically mixed bag of human behavior. But that mixed bag means that hope also never vanishes, and that compassion and collaboration is just an individual choice away. This perhaps makes the dark darker, when you realize how much difference some individuals can make in cases of extreme injustice and brutality--autonomy means greater guilt falls on the wicked or their servants--but it is also cause for hope. I believe in exceptions. We all have need of them on occasion.