‘Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle’.
This quote from the Greek philosopher Plato, is an apt one for the times we live in.
Hurt, angry, upset, betrayed people who are worried and frustrated lash out, and lashing out at other people in the same predicament can only ever make things worse.
There’s a lot of lashing out going on in Ireland at the moment.
We’re all entitled to be angry at the way things are going, and worried for our futures.
But small kindnesses can repay you tenfold, and the damage that can be done by lashing out is really not worth the momentary high of righteous rage.
In the last couple of weeks I’ve heard tales of canvassers being spat at, politicians being punched, and fighting (literally) for bargains in shops.
Christmas is rather stressful at the best of times, and this is definitely not the best of times for the country.
This time of year is incredibly divisive. Many of us adore Christmas. That warm, cosy, Christmassy feeling is something we wait for all year and when it comes we embrace it with open arms.
But there are plenty of people who don’t love Christmas. People who have lost someone, maybe; people who don’t have anyone to lose; people who suffer from depression. It can be the toughest time of the year.
Ireland’s first IMF Christmas has all of this plus a lot of attendant fear and loathing.
Stress levels are through the roof for many families. The Saint Vincent de Paul’s plea for donations this year is particularly acute as thousands of middle class families turn to the charity for assistance. Many people are worried about what 2011 will bring. We’re entering the third ‘New Year’ of the crash, and the messages of hope so confidently uttered for the first two are beginning to wear somewhat thin.
And this is where Plato comes in.
Small acts of kindness don’t just benefit the recipient. The beauty of it is that they benefit the benefactor, so to speak.
Those warm and fuzzy Christmas feelings do not have to be a direct result of mulled wine or chocolate highs. You can create them pretty easily yourself.
Random acts of kindness are a wonderful way of creating some Christmas spirit in this last, frantic week before you get to stay at home and watch reruns of old films for a week.
Let an older person skip the queue ahead of you in a shop. Offer someone a lift. Give them a seat on the bus. Smile, and say thank you, instead of scowling and rushing off to the next shop for the next present you don’t really want to buy.
One small thing can make an incredible difference to somebody’s day; especially somebody who might be fighting a very hard battle on a private front that nobody else can see.
So, no matter how broke you are, give yourself a Christmas boost, and be kind. Unlike most of the Christmas presents you’ll give this year, it costs nothing. Take that, IMF!