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Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Decline of Common Courtesy

As someone who tries to be considerate of others and to exercise kindness in my everyday life, I am probably more tuned in to what I see happening among people which I find very disappointing; people have stopped using common courtesy.

This is not a rant on society as much as my attempt to open people's eyes to what they may be doing, unintentionally or not. In relationships, it's the little things that always matter (mostly to the women) like opening the door for them or putting the toilet seat down. These gestures seem very trivial but it shows a sense of consideration for the other person, so why can't people make small gestures like these all the time? We've all heard the term "random acts of kindness" and most people think that money has to be involved or that by saying hi to a stranger now and then embodies the message of that idea. Remember the words of John Lennon, "you may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one" and going on to say "imagine all the people, living life in peace". You can call me what you want to but I believe that if we all infused just a sampling of kindness into our usual routine, this world would start looking a lot more like the one that Lennon imagined, and I know I'm not alone in my quest for a kinder nation.

I remember the days that followed the tragic events of September 11, 2001 when people started treating others a little nicer to help us all get through the unsettling feeling we all had. It lasted a while but things have returned to how they were before. To me, it's like watching a nation that quit smoking and started to enjoy the feeling, only to pick up the habit again and go back to its unhealthy ways without remembering how great it was. I wish I could say that I just woke up today and had some epiphany that told me to start trying to save the world by killing people with kindness. I certainly have inspiration, and most of it comes from seeing the examples of people who are completely inconsiderate going about their usual ways, oblivious to the message they're sending. I can give examples, like the loud motorcycles that surge through our neighborhood streets after 10pm regularly. We also have neighbors behind us with children who sound like they're re-enacting Monday Night RAW in their living room, not just on Mondays, knowing that we have a 13-month old son trying to sleep.

People say that America is the most powerful nation in the world and is the example for all other countries to follow. Based on that, I guess I've had expectations on our people to treat others well thinking that eventually that idea would just work its way across the world. However, I realize that there are people in the world who are so filled with ignorant hatred they'd never just conform to behaving a certain way just because it's the right thing to do. It's so unfortunate that it takes a tragic event or a worldwide athletics competition to bring us all together, like a large family who never gets together until someone dies. Maybe kindness will replace hate, anger and violence someday but I'll consider it a miracle if I ever see it during my lifetime. Until then, all I can do is ask everyone who reads this to take a minute or two every day to think of how you can be more considerate of others through the small gestures that are so easy to make.

For those who feel particularly inspired and really want to do something, CLICK HERE to download a page of ideas that people have come up with from the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation or visit the page at http://www.actsofkindness.org/index.asp.

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