While I was going from my office to the post office, I greeted a gentleman working at his car. My greeting seemed to be like an intrusion or a burden to him. I decided to stop greeting people and see if any would greet me. From the people that I met on that snowy day, there was no one who felt that he or she should greet me. The only person that spoke directly to me was a gentleman who cut in front of me at the post office and asked to be excused.
I am fully aware that this is not a scientific presentation, but I have become more and more aware that less and less people are greeting one another. Unless people know one another, greeting another human being seems to be vanishing. I can walk on First Avenue and unless people know me they do not greet me. Children do not greet, young people do not greet, and adults do not greet.
The upbringing that I had was so different. In school, if another teacher came to our classroom, the entire class stood up and greeted that person. If a girl or a woman came into a room, all the men stood up and greeted her. If one walked on the street, even if one did not know the person, one nevertheless greeted them with "Good evening, Sir," or "Good evening, Madam." If somehow in a hurry I passed someone without greeting them properly, my parents heard about it. We were taught to honor and respect the human beings.
One of the reasons that we greet one another is that we believe according to the Scripture that we were made in the image and likeness of God. (Genesis 1:27) By God's creation, each human being is a masterpiece. It is this understanding that the Psalmist has when he writes: I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; you works are wonderful, I know that full well." (Ps. 139:14)
Passing by another person without saying anything, I feel diminishes our humanness. From all God's creation we have the gift of speech and it behooves us to greet one another and in this way to honor one another. Apostle Paul writes that he prays whenever he remembers any of his disciples. If he could pray systematically for all those who became believers, is it that hard for us to greet one another, even when we meet strangers?
I encourage you for the sake of our humanness to greet one another and to listen to the response. It is our confirmation that we are these marvelous creatures of God made to live one with another. Greeting one another is recognizing our humanness and our divine Creator in whose image we were made.