Powering Kindness?


This is something that’s been buzzing about my head quite a lot recently, and culminated I suppose with 4 or 5 attempts being made on my life in the course of a week, the most life threatening of which nudged me (like a size 13 Doc Martin flying towards my backside) towards writing this.

As I cycled along College Road in the pouring rain last Tuesday, soaked to the skin – despite rain gear – and illuminated front and back by sufficient lighting, a gentleman decided that the comfort and relative warmth and dryness of his tank was a good thing to use to push his way into the flow of traffic from a side road, with scant regard for this poor drowning sod on a bike travelling towards him.

As he horsed on the brakes to avoid me he gave me the rural “howareya” raised digit off the steering wheel as some sort of acknowledgement that he had nearly killed me. To which I replied with the urban digit-based reply to nearly being thrown off your bike and into traffic.

This is not a cyclists rant though, its based on something that’s been around since before the Bike V’s Car wars began.

It’s an argument for manners.

These days we are all in a rush. All of us.

My youngest child spends Fridays rushing from school to Gaelic Football to gymnastics to Scouts. Some of these overlap so there is frantic collections and dropping-off’s. My own time is spend dashing from one thing to another, pretty much 6 days a week. And I’m sure that yours is somewhere in-between these two. But I would like to think that I still have time for manners.

The vocabulary to say Please & Thank You. The humanity to acknowledge a waiter or waitress as they bring something to our table. The ability to hold doors open for whoever is behind me. The compassion to let a fellow road user out of a side road in a safe and legally responsible manner. These are things that I may not always excel at, but they are things that I strive to achieve.

Unless someone is rude to me, offensive or dangerous, I will always try to engage them in a manner that shows respect and as a fellow human. It’s not that hard.

Twice in the Irish Times’ reports from the Web Summit held in Dublin last week they mention people being rude. Una Mullally says “I only chatted to the people who were actually polite, which was I’d say 50% of people who approached you…” regarding the third and final day of the summit. Previously, on Day 2 she talks about “aggressive pitching to journalists“, in a fashion that was “inappropriate and borderline harassment“.

At what point did it become ok to be rude?

When did we stop thinking that being nice to others was a waste of time and inconvenient, and that we would have a better chance of success by being bad-mannered? When did one person’s opinion become the ONLY opinion? Are there not two sides to most discussions, and is it not polite to listen to the opposing argument as something offered to sway towards a new way of thinking? Or just out of courtesy?

Thinking that you are more important or that your journey – in whatever shape it takes, by bike, in a car, or as a metaphor for life – is more important than someone else’s is greedy, and ignorant.  It makes the world a much less joyous place and a nastier place. We may not have time to allow each and every car to come out of a side road, we may not have time to hold every door, but we all have the time to say Please, Thank you and to acknowledge that someone has done something pleasant for you.

Powering KindnessIn the meantime, this: www.poweringkindness.ie initiative is on, and might just give people the opportunity to slow down for a second or two ..it’s OK to be kind!

Thanks for reading!

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj - FuzionJonathan Leahy Maharaj is the Creative Director who leads the graphic design team at Fuzion

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