“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
– Mark Twain
A good friend of mine once said to me, “your kindness will be your undoing”. I can’t say I agree, but I can see where she was coming from. I don’t know about you, but I guess I can safely say that my society (arguably) lives by that statement. The unfortunate truth of the matter is that we, figuratively, are condoning and witnessing the loss of the core of our being – humanity.
You can’t go a week without hearing the sounds of violent ‘abuse’ of the car horn or ludicrous,privacy-violating posts on online citizen-journalism platforms or social media here. As despondent as it seems, the fact that you can’t really point your finger at someone or something does make the situation worse. Our conservative nature is inherent, and it has turned us clandestinely individualistic. Don’t pretend this isn’t true. If helping someone doesn’t benefit you, you’d reconsider before helping them, wouldn’t you? If you just heard rumors about an acquaintance, you’d avoid or be wary of him/her, wouldn’t you? If you’re stuck in a traffic jam,you’d use the car horn as a weapon and hope the rest of the drivers will open up the lane just so you can go through because you’re just that important, right? If there’s something stuck in your throat, you wouldn’t even spare time thinking twice before spitting on the ground in public because your time is more precious than caring for the environment, right? If there’s a queue for the toilet, you probably haven’t considered the harms in taking your time to pee and using your phone while you’re at it because those harms don’t affect you, right? The list is endless.
Picture this – you’ve just had a bad day. Your lover cheated on you, you just got retrenched, your pet goldfish took its last breath, and nothing is going your way. To find temporary relief, you find the nearest bar to drink your sorrows away, hoping they would actually disappear just as your soberness is. It didn’t take you long to reach a point where you’re on the edge of knocking out and you know you have to leave because you’ve spent all your cash on alcohol. You drag yourself out of the bar and towards the side of the road and try to hitch a ride despite knowing that carpooling isn’t much of a culture here. Sadly (and not unexpectedly), you find yourself sleeping by the roadside and wake up to a crowd snapping photos of you to post on Stomp because you didn’t manage to get a ride home without being threatened by the driver for payment on account of the law.
Naysayers, or trolls (as the internet calls them), will obviously take a step forward to criticize me for contributing to the sorry state of our humanity as well. Don’t act like that isn’t going through your head right now. I definitely have. But that’s just it. We all have. So who am I to blame anyone for it, or to say anything about it? I’m no expert, and neither do I have any important role. I’m pretty much nobody. I don’t have the intention of blaming anyone for anything; what I hope to do is make a change. Just because everyone is doing it doesn’t make it right, and just because not many who notice what’s wrong are brave enough to try and fix things doesn’t mean you should back out. It is time we stop the madness and embrace kindness.
Let’s be realistic here. The state of humanity all around the world is far from excellence; we need to stop being delusional. Just recently, a 13-year-old boy was beaten to death in Bangladesh for allegedly thieving. The attackers, a group of men, tied him to a pole and began beating him despite him begging for his life, because (quoted from a report of the incident by The Straits Times) “his bones are okay”. What is truly, absolutely disgusting is how they have the nerve to film the entire torture process and post the 28-minute video online. The incident “sparked huge protests”. We have reached this point where there are people amidst us who can rationalize their attacks on the basis of allegations. If we don’t do something about it, we will be on our way towards a dystopia, and yes, it is more than just being well-informed/aware of the news or ‘hashtagging’ for support on Twitter. It may seem as though there isn’t much we can do, but if we put our heart into it, it isn’t hard to realize that efforts to improve humanity must come from within and start with the smallest of things.
The case above, of course, is an extreme instance. I was in a lecture last week and this girl who sat in front of me dropped her pen which landed itself just below the seat of the girl sitting beside her in the next column of seats. The latter stared at the pen for a good three minutes before slowly bending down to help her pick it up, and even then it wasn’t her who picked the pen up ad returned it to the owner, but the person who sat in front of her. While the majority of us have the heart to land a helping hand, there is still the selfish minority that, for whatever reason, don’t, even when it comes to the smallest of issues, which makes it all the more abhorrent and vile.
I guess what I’m really saying is it all comes down to the simplest of things. A world that embraces kindness and goodness isn’t that much of a utopia if we all do our part. Sure it won’t be realistic to think that of the whole world as a bed of sunshine and roses because evil dwells among us, but instead of resting on the grounds of all the impossibilities, think of what we can do if we trust in and embody the probability that such a world isn’t far from our reach, no matter how small it may be?
Next time, before you rush past a zebra crossing without giving way to the passers-by, or before you ignore the elderly lady struggling with her shopping bags as she crosses the street, try lending a hand. It can start from as simple as smiling at people as they walk by rather than burying your head in your phone screen.
originally published: 27 Jul 2015