Posts Tagged ‘callousness’

Be Nice: It’s More Important than Ever.

March 26, 2017

Be Nice: It’s More Important than Ever.

There is an epidemic of nastiness in our world. It was evident in this week’s London attack at Westminster when an innocent Muslim woman who walked by the injured/dead pedestrian on Westminster Bridge was trolled for being callous and indifferent to the suffering around her. She wasn’t being anything of the sort but the immediate and vile on-line spewing of vitriol was as ever a knee jerk reaction to an image that suggested a great many things, but was positioned as something to react negatively to. And so people did.

Why are we so happy to take the nasty position? To attack instead of saying nothing? Why do we prefer to be unpleasant instead of kind? Is it simply the anonymity of the cyber-world or is there something deeper and blacker lurking in us all?

What is disturbing from my point of view is that this epidemic is becoming more evident in the young beasties I interact with every day. There seems to be something in the air that is infecting them too. Yes, students have always had a robust relationship with each other: bullying is not a new problem, there have always been cliques, the cool kids, those on the outer. But there seems to be an increasingly callous nastiness to each other: interactions that go beyond teasing, beyond banter. There’s an edge to how they interact at the moment. A harsh disregard for the hurt that is being inflicted on others – be it physical or verbal. If I say something they look at me as if I am mad – it’s okay Miss they know I don’t mean it.

Is this true? Am I missing something here? Is it okay?

If it is okay then we are in a terrible way. Young people who don’t know how to treat each other, who think being casually rude or unkind is acceptable, who don’t actually care about someone else’s feelings, even if it is a friend. But it’s not just young people at school, it is people of all ages, from all over the place. You’re on-line, you read the articles and the comments sections. You know how rude and aggressive people have become. It’s almost expected, isn’t it – get on-line and make as outlandish a comment as possible and wait for the responses so you can get even more outraged. We saw this at its worst (best?) during the recent US election when the comments about Hilary especially were completely beyond the pale. We know of women on Twitter and other places who are trolled with comments wishing they were raped or their children killed.

When did we become some vile, so reprehensible?

The anonymity and comments boards have unleashed a monster that is now utterly out of control. The lack of accountability of these people is clear. Yes, some get prosecuted but the vast majority does not. Freedom of speech is a two edged sword and we have allowed the dark side to over-take us. We seem to have forgotten that being free to speak does not equate with being free to abuse all and sundry.

What should we be doing about this?

Parents must be more responsible for their children’s moral education, for making them into decent citizens, who know right from wrong and the importance of thinking before speaking or acting. Parents need to monitor and restrict their child’s on-line interactions. Not just because it is dangerous out there, but because it is de-humanizing them. The more time a child spends on-line, the less they are able to interact effectively with others – they lose the ability to read and understand emotions. They lose the ability to converse effectively, to listen, to share, to understand that the world does not revolve around them.

Those who run the various social media platforms need to do a great deal more about how they police and punish what is posted on-line. Hate-crimes are all very well, but the everyday hatred that is spewed on various platforms needs greater attention. I’m not sure why Zuckerberg etc don’t get it, why they obsess about breast feeding mothers and turn a blind eye to the myriad other vile and abusive images and messages on their platforms. They need to step up and exercise more moral integrity and not just concern themselves with getting richer at the expense of the moral and ethical decline of the population.

We, ourselves, need to be more vigilant. Challenge young people about their behaviour. Make them read. Yes, I know you are not surprised by this coming from me, but there is a huge amount of research that links reading fiction with being more empathetic and better at getting on with people, and more successful in life. Reading matters more than ever. As a parent take that iPad out of their hands and put a book there. You could even read along with them. Perhaps you need to read more too, more fiction not just shit articles on line that do nothing for your neurons either.

We need to turn away from the noise of hatred ourselves. We need not to support it – call it our where we see it. Not engage in on-line battles; not accept the bias of the media.

We need to be nice – a terrible soft pastel word, much under-rated but incredibly important now. We mustn’t just think that we are, as many people do, but act as if we are. Indulge in acts of kindness, for strangers, but especially for those you love. Say something thoughtful, something kind.

Be positive, see the good in the world as much as you can. (Yes, I know it’s hard but it’s worth trying.) Smile, believe that things will get better, actively work towards making things better; grow things, encourage others, read more; be fully informed, don’t make snap judgments.

If we don’t do something to stem the tide of nastiness, of hatred and vitriol then the world will drown in violence and fear and that’s not a world I want anyone I love about to live in. (Images from Private Collection)


The World is a Dark Place, but There Must be Light Too…

June 20, 2015

The World is a Dark Place, but There Must be Light Too…

At the end of some days I really wonder what the point is – what am I doing with my life? Immured in the ignorance and stupidity of others, and not necessarily the young! Some days when lessons go pear shaped, when bills appear out of nowhere, when the news is once more full of man’s inhumanity to man – yes, you, Tony Abbott – how dare you be proud of paying people smugglers – I wonder what the point of existence is. I look at people on buses, in Tesco’s, in the street and wonder about the point of all these trivial, silly lives, including my own. What are we doing, why are we here?

In a world full of death, despair, evil, pain and suffering for so many I cannot help but wonder what the point is. It is too easy to spiral into nihilism, to enter a place of existential angst puzzling over the pointlessness of it all. The endless parade of war, rape, torture, inequality, callous disregard of the powerful few for the powerless many. This is our world. We have made it so. Even those of us who suffer at the hands of business and politicians. We have lost our way and we should be ashamed. We are worse than animals, we turn on each other, blame each other and kill each other – in many cases without batting an eye-lid.

dead angel

Is the world worse than it has ever been, or is it the constant stream of news and information from all over the world that makes it seem so? Are incidents of rape more common or simply being reported more often? Is child abuse on the rise or are we more aware of it now and less tolerant and so it seems worse? Is the gap between the haves and have-nots the same as it has ever been but we are simply bombarded with their excess through the media?

The insistence that we live in an Economy instead of a Society has not helped. It has made Money the God of us all. Celebrities and sports stars with their excessive lifestyles and incomes makes a mockery of hard work and ordinary lives lived well. Politicians who have no interest in making society better for all of us, not just their banker or business mates, have screwed ordinary people. Why do so many people need to live on the streets or in squalor when there is so much wealth in the world, especially in countries like the UK, Australia and the USA?


So, how do we find meaning in our own lives in the face of the darkness in the world?

Apparently at the end of our lives we see things as they are, we look at our lives and consider our worth in the world. If you’ve ever been seriously ill, or lost someone you love you’ve also trod this path. Cancer survivors often embrace life with renewed vigor, only too aware of what was nearly lost. But we don’t have to wait until the end to consider our own worth and value. Look around you now, what is it that you bring to the world, that shines some light in the darkness?

Don’t be fooled by money and celebrity. Don’t think that meaning lies in the big things, in doing something ridiculously brave or foolhardy. You don’t have to crusade against the latest infidel. We can’t all change the world but we can in many ways make it better.


Shine your light…

*Be aware of your strengths and how you operate in the world – are you a good friend, are you thoughtful and caring, considerate and fun to be with? Being a good friend is one of the best ways to make the world a better place, so don’t underestimate the gift of friendship.

Pal's pals@GCSE

*Your day job is probably more important than you know. So many jobs are people oriented, and how you interact on a daily basis does make a difference to others. Yes, teachers, nurses and doctors have an edge here. We have the potential to make big differences to people’s lives and we do and sadly that is not accorded the credit it needs. But note, people who make it big never mention their banker or the PM, they usually remember the teacher who made a difference. Yes, their teacher, not the principal or the Education Minister, but the person in the room with them, guiding them, chiding them, giving them knowledge, confidence and care.

*Volunteer – locally, it doesn’t need to be a big look-at-me oversees experience, get involved in clean up programs, charity shops, visit old people. No Australian should be OS helping third world people when the third world lives large and shamefully in our own Outback.

*Help others – it makes them feel better and it helps you. Coaching a team, tutoring others, sharing your skills with the world makes it a better place.

*Protest – if you believe in a cause join an action group, sign petitions, march against corruption, inequality, Austerity and what we are doing to the Boat People; march for the forests, for justice – people power does work, does change things and reminds you that others feel just as you do and renews your faith in your fellow man.

*Be an artist – paint and create beautiful things, the world is sadly in need of beauty. We need to be reminded the world can still be beautiful.

*Be a writer – tell stories to take people away to other worlds, different times, new experiences, to learn about themselves through your magic words. Tell stories that inspire others to action, to make them think. Stories tells the truth and stories of all sorts must continue to be told so we know who we are.

light forest

We all have a light. In this world of darkness and danger we must work harder to find our light and shine it brighter so the world does not become a place of relentless despair and hopelessness. (Images from Private Collection)