It would be an act of negligence if we don't harness wave of decency for future
Back in 2009, I launched a web-based social initiative, called 57 Million, which was aimed at sharing our experiences of simple acts of everyday human kindness and, thereby, encouraging others to follow suit. It’s rather counter-intuitive key message was “ to plan your acts of spontaneous kindness”.
The idea was born out of too many late nights over too many beers in too many dingy bars all around the world in which I would repeatedly bemoan the fact that only bad news sells and so much goodness is ignored. On one occasion a good friend, by now bored with my moaning, told me in very direct terms to do something about it. Or hide the idea away somewhere dark and private.
The website was a huge success attracting up to 4000 messages a week, including contributions from people such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu ( whose story was literally life changing for him ), and Sir Alex Ferguson.
I am not naïve and pointed out in interviews with TV AM, RTE Radio and The Independent, that the world can be a dangerous, cruel and unfair place and that that also applied to a percentage of its inhabitants. I am not qualified enough or smart enough to pass any judgement on the reasons why this may be including debates on nature v nurture, chemical, psychological, theological etc.
Except to state that my unshakeable belief is that there is more good in our world and it is a force for positive change that is often overlooked and unused or abused in our fast paced, high-tech, busy lives.
The current behaviours I am witnessing – remotely and personally – have reaffirmed this in my mind and heart. In these upside down times just in my area in Tipperary the acts of kindness are legion and the efforts being put in by all members of the community from shopkeepers to Rugby and GAA Clubs down to neighbours posting flyers and organising support rotas are superhuman.
Health workers and other frontline, key workers including cleaners, delivery people, shopkeepers and truck drivers have been billed as our new heroes . They are not new, they have been there all along. Just often overlooked and taken for granted in our aforementioned busy busy lives. And a healthy percentage are immigrants. That’s another thought to ponder in these times and to remember in the future If my children were young enough I would dream, post Covid-19, of walking into their rooms and seeing posters on the wall of the ICU staff at South Tipperary General Hospital, DJ Butler of Centra in Dundrum or Pat Ryan in Ballintemple tirelessly supporting their community. Alongside of course, ubiquitous and acceptable but comparatively unimportant effigies of , albeit, very talented sports or pop stars.
Even a quick and very rare trip to the shop or pharmacy for essential goods has become something meaningful and memorable; seeing someone you know and ‘chatting’ with them across 10 yards of road or car park – but every time a genuine human interaction of support, affection, respect and care. Not a passing ‘howya’. Promises made of how we will come together when this is over. Promises that will be kept.
Never before have I felt such a strong sense of community and the power of people being there even when they can’t be there.
And its not just true of individuals. Our government, businesses and much maligned financial institutions have proven that they can effect massive people-focussed change in a matter of hours where usually it may have taken years.
It should be labelled as reckless or gross negligence, a criminal act almost, if the authorities do not harness this surge, this goodness, a human ‘thisness’ to change our society for the better for ever. A recalibration of our economic and social thinking and processes.
Regardless of any political persuasion or bias it is generally and genuinely accepted – for many reasons - that our Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar is an especially decent human being. In this crisis he has so far also proven to be a man of courage, honesty and humility. He has been a statesman, not shirking bad news but also giving hope to the people. He is now trusted.
Michael Martin also is held across parties in very high regard both as a human and a politician.
Should the likely Fine Gael/Fianna Fail shared government happen, I believe that these two men will bear a responsibility I believe unprecedented in the history of our country. And it has been some history.
It is a responsibility to nurture and harness an already existing power that has become only too evident in this time of crisis.
I am an optimist, I always live in hope.
Some people advise me that ‘hope is not a strategy’. I disagree. Hope is the most natural and strongest coping strategy in the world.
The late Andy Ripley an international rugby player and athlete, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, wrote in the Foreword to his book:
“ Dare we hope? We dare. Can we hope? We can. Should we hope? We must, because to do otherwise is to waste the most precious of gifts.”
I hope our leaders get it right. Whoever they are.
© Kylin Prime Group 2019