The standard mantras of well run homes and well behaved children is that they always say please and thank you. They never raise their voice and are always polite. The children are the jewel of every parent, these adults are the symbol of what courteousness should be. Pretty much Colin Firth, the epitome of the perfect gentleman.
I recently stopped hearing from a friend and wondered why. When I confided in another friend they asked me I always always ask how they were. It is a simple question, one that the answer would ordinarily be an easy yes. Then I thought about it, how many friends forget to ask their friends how they were, how their day went. It seems our society has bred a generation of receivers of kindness but not givers of kindness.
I have spent hours in conversation listening to the dramas of other people and not once in that conversation did they bother to ask how my day was. It usually never bothers me until the cynic in me comes out and then I call people out. I probably have also been on the other side of that, spilling out the stresses of my day but forgetting that I was not the only one in the conversation. It’s a natural thing, to ask someone how they are. Sometimes it feels almost robotic, the thing you are supposed to say after the heys and the what’s ups. The natural progression after our response to their how are you. Somehow we find ourselves regurgitating the deluge of our oft horrible days forgetting that horrible days are not exclusive to just us.
We all talk about random acts of kindness and publicise how well we have behaved by acting so randomly. Why should kindness be random? Why can’t kindness be natural and good manners? Would we not be better off if when we say our pleases and thank yous, we also say how are you, excuse me and how I can help you. Why should we wait for some social media game to remind the people in our lives that we care or to take a moment and be courteous or generous with out time, wealth or heart.
Why do we forget to keep in touch with people we call friends and act surprised when they seem distant? When did friendship become work, something that has to follow your schedule. When did we become so busy that our friends don’t even deserve a simple “just checking in”. I remember when conversations with friends could take place with a series of emoticons because all you wanted was to let the other person know you’re thinking of them. I remember when thought was important and all that counted.
When did it become okay to put our friends on to do lists and forget catch ups because it wasn’t in our calendar, when did friendship become an agenda item in the big meeting of life? When did we decide it was better to walk away than stay and understand?
When did it become okay to receive kindness and forget to give it back? When did we start forgetting to ask our friends how they were and how their day was? Why do we always forget to simply ask ‘how are you?’
I hope I can be a better example of a giver of kindness.