Everybody has an opinion but that doesn’t mean everyone is right. But who is right? And what is right?
We have been born and bred thinking that we have rights. And that is correct. But as we grow up we should also be learning our responsibilities and duties as citizens, as part of a community, part of a family.
We tend to think that politicians give us our rights (wrong, they are civil servants seeing our rights being dutifully applied) but we forget that we have our obligations. The basic tenet is civic duty and our behaviour towards others.
Social media has, and is playing a major role at deconstructing all this, with people spending more time behind the keyboard, throwing thoughts into words, and many times hurting others in the process.
That is because we do not think before we write, we take it for granted that our words mean what they do, often repeating what we heard without checking facts or taking any responsibility. And that is painful at the receiving end.
Let us just think for a moment what we are up to with the Covid-19 situation.
We see a lot of people adhering to regulations, wearing masks, washing hands and keeping physical distance, as it should be. We do it not just out of obligation, but also out of respect to others and ourselves.
We hear a lot of debate about school opening with teachers scared of going back to class due to a possible infection or impossible protocols (rightly so), parents complaining that they have no pedagogy training so they cannot help their children (rightly so), but nobody sits down to see what can be done. Or if done it is either too little or too late.
Then there are those who think they are immune to anything so do not bother to wear a mask when entering an establishment, do not bother to clean their hands or keep a safe physical distance. This irks the many respectful people.
Civic duty starts by respecting your environment and the people around you. It is not a game to play especially in a critical situation. Respecting regulations is also essential to the well-being of the community you form part of.
A typical example is the driving on our roads. Light indicators are nearly non-existent, especially towards us pedestrians who have to decide to cross a street, full speed ahead in narrow streets especially if there are cat colonies in those streets, no respect for parking spaces and so forth.
We can keep on discussing our social and civic obligations, but the truth is we might be becoming a society where the fittest survive without any care for the others.
We can go on talking about the socially excluded, the weak, the elderly and the vulnerable. It might take us years to agree on something. But we are in it together, as a family, as a group of friends, as a community. So we should think as a group and not individually.
And what makes us human is the consideration we have for others, being respectful, empathy and showing that we care.
A mask, an indicator, a hello, a thank you, can make all the difference in these trying times.
So let us make PLEASE and THANK YOU our priorities, now in Covid times and beyond. That is the least thing we can do to feel better and contributing to a smile on other people’s faces even if it is for a fleeting moment.