More Thoughts On Being Nice

There are people who think the world owes them and there are those who think they have to pay their dues along the way. To my mind, the first kind might feel triumphant about getting their own way but sooner or later they might find themselves being ignored since they have never thought about anybody except themselves all their lives. After all courtesy is the lubricant needed to ease our way in the world if we do not want to alienate people.

I always thought gratitude or at least, a feeling of thankfulness, is what we need to keep us grounded. But I wondered if perhaps appreciation might be the word I was looking for – appreciating what we have been blessed with deservedly or undeservedly and showing our appreciation by our actions. In school we were taught to count our blessings and to appreciate the fact that we complain about having no shoes when there are those who have no legs. Even psychologists offer the same advice. It is all the more necessary to count our blessings because quite often we come by them gratis and not because we did something good sometime, contrary to what the song says.

But at the risk of being ridiculed as an old woman, which I am, living in the past, which I am not, I will say this. No longer are our young people grateful for anything nor are they appreciative of the good things that come their way. They think it is their right to be given importance but somehow it escapes their understanding that they need to give the same respect and importance to others.

As John Donne wrote, “No Man Is An Island”. Sooner or later, someone who makes a habit of not thinking of anyone but themselves, will find they are as good as an island adrift in the sea. In Tamil there is a saying, “Oorodu Othu vaazh” which means that one should live in harmony with others. Going on one’s own way does not mean taking the road less travelled, it means leaving everybody else behind. One day when you turn back to see , you will find yourself all alone.

That will not be so pleasant. I dearly wish they would teach the Golden Rule in kindergartens “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. That was Jesus but five centuries before Confucius had taught “Do not impose on others what you do not wish for yourself”.

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