If I could wish one thing for humanity it would be to get to a place where we are considerate of each other.
And I know, as you read this, you’re thinking, “I’m considerate.” No, sorry, most people are not. We do the bare minimum and then, when we do it, we tend to announce it or need applause for it.
Have you noticed how many people are called “heroes” nowadays for doing the most basic things? There’s a clip going around on LinkedIn that I’ve seen on other social media where young boys are helping an elderly man step off a bus. Yes, it’s a lovely gesture, but do you know why it’s so “lovely”? Because it’s rare nowadays. Because we’re not normally considerate of each other. It’s rare because when we do something that should be a normal act of decency, we think it’s going out of our way and in need of some sort of special acknowledgment. These boys were rewarded with cash for their “amazing” gesture. That’s how rare it is. Someone thought to give them a cash prize for being…one sec, let me check my notes…decent.
I remember growing up in the ’80s riding the trolley in Boston and always standing up and giving my seat to an elder. It wasn’t special. It’s what you did. It’s what was expected. If you’re able-bodied and could stand and hold on, then an older person, deserved that seat. It wasn’t applause-worthy then and it shouldn’t be now, it’s just the right thing to do. But in the world, we live in, Keanu Reeves gets up to let a woman sit down and everyone is shocked and the video goes viral! I’m far more stunned that Keanu is riding the subway as an A-list celebrity out of concern for his safety, but most people are beside themselves that he would give up his seat for another person. Really?
We’ve lost our way as human beings on several levels, and I wish we’d find our way back.
If we cared about one another, and truly valued each other as human beings, we’d do more to help one another regularly. We wouldn’t sit back and allow others to get hurt in any fashion. It wouldn’t be heroic to stop the bully or extraordinary to help the homeless. We wouldn’t allow people to suffer needlessly. When someone was feeling down or in a slump, we’d notice and ask them how they were doing. We’d easily give them a seat or show concern. We’d care.
I’m rarely confused when a gunman kills a bunch of people and the neighbors say, “I didn’t know he was…”. We’re all so self-absorbed as a society we don’t notice anything at all about anyone until it affects us personally. Then, we notice. And my favorite part, we all then wonder why no one else noticed or did something to help them… the fucking irony.
It’s the little things too. I have neighbors who will sit in their apartments with the windows fully open (because it’s so hot out), talking on the phone while on speaker. All you really hear clearly is their responses to a screeching inaudible but loud noise on the other end. The reverberation is incredibly annoying. When you’re not a considerate person, you don’t even think about how your behavior might be affecting another person around you. It’s not even a thought. A considerate person might think: if it’s super-hot out, is it possible that other people have their windows open too? Should I be on speaker phone talking so loudly that it might possibly disturb others? It’s the same reason why people don’t use their directional while driving (or “blinker” as we call them in Boston). These people are so inconsiderate because they don’t care whether or not someone knows where they’re about to go. They don’t see how their actions (or non-actions) could have consequences to other people and cause an accident. I have said this so many times, and I stand by it: I can tell the kind of person someone is just by the way they drive. If you’re an ass while driving, you’re an ass in every day life. Same with how you treat the wait staff…
I know, this may all seem nonsensical and so small – but you know, it all matters. It’s the little things. And all of those build up to the bigger things.
Being considerate means intentionally caring about others – understanding how you affect another person with your behavior. Being considerate is also a function of having manners. Yes, you’ll give up your seat because it’s the right thing to do when you’re able-bodied and someone else is not. Or maybe you do it because you know you had an easy day compared to someone else who just jumped on the train, who might have finished an 8-hour shift working and could use the rest more. Being considerate is helping someone who is using a walker get off a bus, not because you’ll be rewarded, but because human beings should want to help and protect each other from harm.
Sadly, the more we congratulate and award what used to be normal behavior, the less we do it ourselves and the more extravagant it is when we see it.
I implore anyone reading this to do something considerate today. Not to be acknowledged, not to announce it to the world, but in the hopes that we start finding our way back to being good and decent human beings who actually care about each other.
- careful not to cause inconvenience or hurt to others.
- showing careful thought.
This is my wish for humanity – yes. Because this wish, above all others, would do the most good in several meaningful ways. I could wish to end all hunger, but if we’re not considerate of each other we’d end up right where we started…right where we are right now.
I still have hope for us yet.
Header Photo by Saroj Gajurel
First Photo by Andrea Piacquadio
Photo by lalesh aldarwish