Honesty and Kindness

August 2021

What has happened to humanity? I'd say that it seems like we're acting like animals, but even animals act better than this.

I'm specifically referring to honesty and kindness. I'm wondering if we're all so used to being in our own little bubble, that we've forgotten how to act and behave - you know, basic social etiquette and human interaction. The usually unsaid do's and don'ts of society. The stuff that makes us humans and not seen as barbaric. It seems ridiculous, but I think humanity has lost big chunks of what humanity means and it seems like it's behaviour that we're starting to expect from each other, and it shouldn't.

Here's an example: The other week, I received in the mail more of an item than what I had ordered online. I'd been sent two, instead of one, and it was a rather big item. I contacted the store to let them know what happened and to ask if I could just return it to any of their stores. The answer was yes - return it to any store with a copy of my original order printout, so that they could mark it off in their system. (The alternative was to post it back to them, but given the size, I didn't want them to cop the return postage fee when it was just as easy for me to drop it into the nearest store.) So earlier this week, I went to one of their stores to return it. Since we're still in lockdown, this store was only doing click and collect and I had to line up and wait my turn. When it came to me, I explained to the customer service person there that I was dropping off an item because it was a mistake and I was told that I couldn't return any items at the store because they weren't doing any transactions. I had to repeat myself a few times, reframing my sentence each time, before she finally understood that I wasn't asking for a refund but was simply returning an item that was mis-sent to me. And that's when I saw it. The shock and disbelief in her eyes. And she wasn't the only one. The other customers waiting in line were also staring at me in disbelief. No one seemed to understand why I had gone out of my way to return an item to the store, when it was their mistake. It seemed like it was expected that I just keep the mis-sent item and gift it or sell it for a profit. And I could hear some people mumble just that - saying that they would have kept it and sold it for the money. Seriously? Isn't that theft? Even if the store sent it to me? Keeping it when I didn't pay for it?

When I was allowed to hand back the item, the customer service person didn't just say thank you. She actually said "thank you for being so honest about this and taking the time to return it".

And that's when it hit me. Is dishonesty expected? Is it the norm to lie, cheat and steal? Is it expected that everyone does it sometimes? And if it's yes to any of the above, what on earth has happened to humanity? Why should honesty be such a rare commodity? What's happened to us as a human race? Why are we always expecting the worse? Is it because we've been conditioned to it? What happened to giving the benefit of the doubt? Or have others before us made such a mockery of that and abused that right, that it's no longer given? That being nice and honest, is no longer expected?

And if you think of it, there are plenty of examples when we expect the worst. When someone stops you on the street, do you think they're just asking for money or something else from you? Or do you think that it's someone who needs help and maybe some directions? Or to let you know that you've dropped something? Or to give you a compliment? Or don't we expect the latter things to happen?

Has all the lockdowns, social distancing and the way we use technology, hindered us from being human? Has it stopped us from showing basic kindness to each other? Has it fuelled a means to lie and cheat and cover it up or hide from the consequences? Has the way we text and chat allow us to just blurt out complete rubbish because you're not face-to-face with your audience and can therefore dodge or escape from any repercussions?

Let me ask you this: When was the last time you did something nice for someone, just because? When was the last time you smiled at stranger, not because you were hitting on them, but just because happiness is a nice emotion to share? When was the last time you complimented someone, just because you liked their shoes, their outfit, their hairstyle, or whatever? When was the last time you held a door open or let someone enter the room before you because they were older than you (and that's polite)? When was the last time you said please and thank you when you ordered something or spoke to someone in customer service? When was the last time you were nice just to be nice?

For the sake of humanity, I hope that you have some manners and said that you did at least one of those things regularly. Even animals are kind and respectful to each other. And being honest, being kind, being courteous... none of this costs you anything; If anything, doing nice things makes you feel better. Being nice raises your spirits because you've shared some kindness.

I'm not asking you to be a martyr. I'm not asking you to be an absolute saint. I am simply asking you to be a bit more human. I'm asking everyone to show a bit more respect to each other. Honesty and kindness should be part of your normal routine. It should be normal. And really, a little bit more honesty, kindness, love and tolerance is something everyone in this world can do with.

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