Why not start by being human?
There’s no doubt that the world has been experiencing too many heartbreaks with tragedies like mass shootings, civil wars and disease epidemics. Amid the illogical POVs by some on issues like gun control or immigration it’s nice to see many others sharing open minded perspectives and the desire to do more in an attempt to counteract the negativity. That said, it seems like people forget that we have the opportunity every single day of our lives to take actions that perpetuate positivity.
Being a humanitarian shouldn’t just be about how much you donate to the UNHCR or how you volunteer your time, it also needs to be about how you treat those around you on a regular basis. It doesn’t make any sense that the same person weeping over the lives lost in Paris won’t move her bags so a fellow passenger can take a seat during her morning train ride or a father preaching about the consequences of bullying will turn around and grunt at the person taking “too long” at the ATM. If you pay close attention to people’s reactions in the most basic inconvenient circumstances you’ll notice that most of the time they won’t give others the benefit of the doubt. For instance, the other day I had to double park in front of my house because the recycling bin was blocking my driveway. Although there was ample room for the driver behind me to detour around my car, his instinct was to throw up his hands in disbelief. A minor five second delay in his commute caused such an adverse reaction that it actually made me sad. Maybe I’m alone, but it feels like such behaviour has now become the norm.
As we become more digitally connected but physically distanced and our emotions continue to get reduced to clicking a like button on a video or empty words in a comment section, are we forgetting how to act with people in the real physical world? Do we have to be faced with the grimmest of situations in order to actually feel something?
Somehow in the last some odd years we’ve managed to suppress the basic fundamental human need of affection. If we’re not looking at our phones we’re walking with our heads down. I think the elevator awkward silence is a prime example of this. I often step into the 5’x6′ box at peak hours and think to myself, why can’t I smile and say hello to my fellow citizens rather than intentionally avoid eye contact?
Undeniably we could all benefit from the thoughtfulness of not just those who are close to us but even strangers we come in contact with every day. It’s time to think twice before rolling our eyes at the waiter because he got the order wrong or muttering at the bank teller on his first day on the job. If we want to make a notable difference in the world, let’s start by, in the words of Ellen DeGeneres, “being kind to one another”.