Young Reporter: Kindness of Human Beings ... Where Has It All Gone?
RECENTLY, I contacted a local glass artist, Sheila Pearce, as part of my AS level art exam.
It was a long shot but she responded and before I knew it I was in her studio creating a piece of glass art of my own. This has not only given me a one-off experience but also that little bit extra in my exam. Reiterating this story to one of my teachers, they claimed "it really restores your faith in humanity", which got me thinking ...
Has our society become so deficient that it truly is "every man for himself" or is there still a minority out there who attend to the needs of others, seeking nothing in return? Before my encounter with Sheila, I would have agreed that people have become solely involved in surviving in only their life. As Darwin's theory, survival of the fittest, suggests, these people make choices that will ultimately only aid their survival in the world. For example, walking past a homeless person on the street, kindness says you could give him some of your change, but survival tells you the change is too valuable to be given away. It could pay for the bus ride home or for the loaf of bread you still need. And what would they do with it anyway? They will not all spend it on alcohol.
But, you were going to walk home anyway, and you've still got bread in the cupboard, so why did survival tell you not to? Surviving is an instinct, one that every animal has, but kindness is human. Animals don't understand kindness, and for those of you that would argue they do, it's at least not in the same way. Maybe next time survival kicks in, you could stop and think, before it's too late, and be kind.
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When I was talking to Sheila I asked her if she wanted anything in return, like money to pay for the glass I used. Her answer was "so many people have helped me out in the past, I like to give back when I can ", which I found quite enlightening. All of us have received help from someone at some point in our life, so is offering that same help in return really that much to ask? As the saying goes "what goes around comes around". I remember an old headmaster explaining "that doesn't mean if you give somebody a chocolate bar, the next day two will fall from the sky right into your lap", but rather one act of kindness will follow another, and likewise with an act of maliciousness.
Personally, I have been in some situations when I have wanted to help, but not sure if I should. In one instance, I saw a child fall off his bike and his parent was some way down the road. I wanted to go and help but at the same time, I did not want to be accused of anything by the parent when they arrived. Instead I watched from a distance and made sure he was OK. With all that is on the news and the increasing exposure of paedophiles and kidnaps, I suppose parents have to be cautious, but are the risks of something bad happening as high as the media presents them?
Every week it would seem there is a new case of child molestation or abduction and even murder in the newspapers and, on our TVs, it would seem nowhere is safe. But is that actually true? The media has made us afraid of the hooded figures littering the streets at night, but are we right to be scared? Or is the media sensationalising stories of petty crime to fabricate our worst nightmares?
As a community, I feel there are certain things we can do to create a sense of security. When you pass someone in the street, what do you do? Smile? Say "good morning"? If not, I think it's worth doing.
It indicates that there is nothing to be afraid of here, and creates an alliance with neighbours.
Next time, will you be kinder to a stranger who asks or needs your help?