Today I stumbled across an online discussion thread about cyber-bullying … adult cyber-bullying to be precise. It made me very sad to read about what had allegedly taken place. I won’t go into detail, but it did start me thinking about how we treat one another - our partners, children, family members, friends, colleagues, neighbours and complete strangers. Unfortunately we live in a society, nay a country, nay a world, that is getting harder and harder to survive on a daily basis. I’m not talking about not having a roof over our heads or food in our stomachs (although I acknowledge that is a real problem for many), but I’m thinking more about the disintegration of our communities.
We have just celebrated the Queen’s diamond jubilee. I was a very tiny child when we celebrated her silver jubilee, but amazingly I still remember it. The neighbours came together and held a street party. I remember the fun of sitting down with the entire neighbourhood to eat jelly and ice cream! It saddens me deeply that 35 years on the street we now live on, our ‘neighbourhood’, couldn’t be bothered to even hang bunting, let alone party with each other. The term ‘neighbour’ doesn’t seem to apply nowadays. The people that live next door to us, with whom we share a party wall, would rather point blank ignore us than catch our eye and smile. Why? Well I can’t really speak for them, so I won’t, but I will say that I see an awful lot of anger nowadays. People pushing you out of the way. Total inconsideration for anyone but themselves. Yelling in the street in the wee hours of the morning, not caring if they wake those in peaceful slumber. Slamming car doors. Throwing litter into the road. Fly-tipping. Allowing their dogs to deposit outside a school. Having no pride. Having no consideration.
To sidestep a little, I think the UK has one of the worst customer services in the world. Of course I am generalising (I haven't visited each and every country!), and there are many excellent businesses and employees of those businesses, but more often than not I can go through a complete transaction in a shop, from arriving at the counter to leaving the store, without the person ‘serving’ me saying a word. Even worse is the sales person who gossips to a colleague throughout the entire transaction without even making eye contact with me. This is rude. This is unnecessary. (Nowadays I take my custom elsewhere if this happens, but I am older and care less of what others think of me).
Gone are the days of smiling and saying hello as you pass someone in the street. Okay, you may not feel safe or comfortable doing so, but there seems to be a real lack or consideration, a lack of KINDNESS towards each other, in our society today ... and this worries me. If society is like this now, what does the future hold? I don’t know why some people are so angry and care so little about the people with whom they share their part of the world. I don’t know why certain people are so selfish and self-absorbed to the point where they relish and delight in someone else’s failures or problems. I am always reminded of something my late gran used to say: "God help us if we had another world war – it would be so different, we’d be shooting each other for a can of beans!" I ask you - what makes a 10 year old child say this about her best friend: “don’t try to copy from her – you’ll get all the answers wrong.” Why does a parent boast about their child being bossy? What type of person stands watching their 6 year old point and call names at people in the street? Why does one neighbour spread lies about another? Why does a person emotionally knock someone down instead of celebrating that someone’s achievements?
I don’t know about you, but I cannot end the day on an argument. I cannot sleep unless I have some sort of resolution. I don’t like upsetting people and I don’t like to be upset. I am, however, realistic and not totally self-righteous. I do upset people and people upset me, but I try my hardest not to. I don’t go out of my way to be horrid and inconsiderate. I try to go out of my way to be kind. To treat people, whether they be my closest friend or the person serving me in my local supermarket, with respect, with kindness … how I would like to be treated myself. I consider how my words and actions affect those around me.
To those who find it difficult to be kind and unselfish, I challenge you to try and see how it makes you and those around you feel. If anger breeds anger, then I would like to hope that kindness breeds kindness. So if you do one thing today, be KIND. Stop to let someone through, smile and wave at the driver who waits for you, open the door for someone, go out of your way to compliment your friend. And even if you don’t receive any acknowledgement or kindness in return, know that there was one less unkind person in the world that day. Imagine if we were all kind to each other and put others before ourselves (and I include the planet and all living things in this) … what a wonderful place this world would be.