Monday, September 22, 2014


MOST people are good, despite what Nick Cave says on one song from his ‘Boatman’s Call’ album. Every day I see strangers, and given the right brief and random opportunity, people will smile at you or leave you alone and respect your right to be left alone or encouraged smilingly. The true test of whether people are good or not is this witnessing of warm or benign strangers. Of course, sometimes it takes a little effort on your part. It helps to look decent, have your children trail next to you (if you have any), smile and look content yourself, exhibit kind eyes, to not look aggressive or arrogant, and to look calm and safe.

The news these days is full of stories about people who want to hurt other people. Some of them want to cut off your head. Others just want to rob you, take your money at the ATM, sexually assault you, or say something racist or demeaning, or glare or swear at you at the slightest provocation, or steal your parking spot or your spot at the ice cream line, or smirk at your taste on books, films or clothes, or frown at your vulnerability or the way you wear your heart on your sleeve, or your political choice or your desire to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, or the way that you hum or sing whilst you walk, have a foreign accent, or laugh meanly when you trip on the pavement, or glare menacingly when you try and start a conversation, or give you a parking ticket or traffic infringement notice at the drop of a hat, or accuse you of snobbery if you like a foreign film or wear a smart suit.

But this is just the news. Most of the time I find that people are really good. They either don’t mind you and seem not to notice you because they are on the phone or have plugs in their ears, or they do notice you and their face opens up and smile and make your day.

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