By Michael Gunther
Over the last six months, I’ve been traveling back and forth to the East Coast on business, and on my most recent trip I noticed something different. Whether I was in the airports or New York City or Philadelphia, it seemed that people were friendlier than they were on my other trips. From the elevators to the streets, people were really polite. In fact, I wrote about the lack of manners I experienced back in August when I questioned my own perspective.
So, this recent observation perplexed me. Was it that I changed my perspective? Was it because it is the holiday season? I continued to ponder this anomaly and surmised that maybe something else was happening. Could it be because of the negative rhetoric of the political season, the increase in hate-focused harassment, the angry protests around the country — that maybe people realize that we are all in this together and should be more polite to others.
I do not have a Pollyanna view on this realization, but I for one am just tired of the negativity and hostility. I wonder if others are feeling as I have over the last few months, given the posts and images on social media suggesting we unite as a country. This doesn’t mean that I’m not challenged by what has transpired, but it’s nice to see positive actions result.
Imagine if more people said hello to strangers on the street, opened doors for others as they enter a building, or said good morning to those on the elevator. Could you imagine if people said ‘excuse me’ if they bumped into you or said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ more often? Perhaps we could exhibit kindness to others, as we teach our children to do.
In times of crisis, we typically see our communities and country come together to address the challenges we face. This is what makes us strong as individuals and a society. It is during periods of adversity that people derive hope for a better future. This is when we see the strengths of kindness, respect and decorum become ‘front and center’ in our lives.
This recent travel experience made me appreciate that, at the end of the day, most people want the same things. They want to live a purposeful and meaningful life. They want to feel loved and cared about while having the ability to create the lives they want to live. People would prefer to be treated fairly and with respect as well. Is this really too much to ask for?
I grasp the fact that I can’t control the actions of others, but I certainly can control mine. I can choose to be kind to the individuals I encounter in my daily life. I can choose not to respond negatively to others even if they are not thoughtful to me. So maybe, just maybe, we are slowing turning a corner of strength as individuals and communities. In this season of joy and merriment, I would like to believe that there is hope for a better future between the individual’s in our country. A guy can dream.