Thursday, 10 November 2011

Random Acts of Kindness

I have always been something of a student of human nature. You can learn so much about individuals from what they do and the way that they perceive themselves. I have been watching one such group of boating people for a couple of years now.

I have touched on types that you can have the misfortune to meet on the canals before. However, with this lot it was with amused indifference that I observed at first. But its now with increasing incredulity that I observe them. I'm not sure if it is something in the canal water that does it.

Read all about canal types!
Here, Here and Here.

People watching can be a rewarding experience as you start to realise that we are not all plugged together in the same way. After a while you learn that there are people types and the more you observe them, the more of their traits you can identify.

Let me paint you the picture....

The World has changed since I was a child. Some of the changes have been quite subtle whilst others have been as obvious as a poke in the eye. For instance, today if a dog is seen unaccompanied in the street, it is a candidate for being caught and returned to its owner. Yet, way back when I was a kid, the sight of a dog roaming around was nothing uncommon and would have caused little concern to anyone.

Today, some of us would make the extra effort to catch the wayward pooch and others would ignore the dog and hope like an unwanted problem it would just go away. In the last couple of years we have picked up two dogs and one cat from the street an effort to ensure their safety and well being. In our case we did not have the owners in mind, just the animals welfare. These were simple acts of kindness by us, toward the animal concerned.

Read more about the animals here.
A Personal Ad.
Déjà vu

Me and the Memsahib have this ethos of trying to do little acts of kindness as a good turn to anyone. We figure that some people would do similar things for us if we were in need. The motivation for the acts being the nice warm feeling that it gives to us. Plus we meet up with strangers some of whom soon become our friends. We don't set out to look for a kindnesses to make, as some sort of deliberate action. It is just something we would naturally do, whenever we come across someone or something in need.

We have also experienced the opposite end of the kindness spectrum and where a simple act could have been very helpful. Some people have gone out of their way to be difficult and obstructive. It comes down to individual personalities. Where some people respond in a positive way and others respond in a negative way.

I think that the person with the negative response gets the exact same feeling as the person who responds positively. The positive thinking person feels the warm self satisfying glow that they have done good. The negative person feels that they have got one over on you, it makes them glow inside as well. Neither types set out to do this, its just the way that they are. Its whatever floats their boat, so to speak.

Think about some of the people that you know, then try to decide which camp would you place them in. Then think about the outlook of each individual. Are they naturally cheerful and outgoing or are they the grudging introvert sort . Its amazing, when you do this you will find that the individuals fall into the much the same grouping.

However, you will find that there are one or two exceptions who fall into a third grouping. They are not helpful they are the deliberately difficult people. They live everyday just being difficult to anyone and everyone. They are seemingly full of angst with everything around them. However, they would take advantage of your proffered kindness in an instant, whilst at the same time thinking you to be a fool. These people would set out to manipulate any situation to their advantage and preferably all done at your expense. These are the same people who would loudly pro-claim "don't you realise we are doing it for your benefit" when whatever they are doing is nothing of the sort.

As individuals they start to cluster together, because they seem to recognise each other from a great distance. Then as the grouping grows bolder, its like a self induced feeding frenzy. They can't back away for fear of loosing credibility within the peer group. Then one in the group assumes command the others  kowtow to the pack leader.

So what of my little group that I am observing.

These people are the architects of their own impending downfall. They currently feel empowered for the first time in their somewhat droll lives. It seems to go to their head, like a bottle of cheap wine. They want to make everything bigger and better, supposedly for "your benefit". They even start to believe in their own rhetoric and assume a position of superiority.

Now old and grumpy I am, a misogynist I'm not. But I have to say its always the ladies that seem to be the driver behind such pairs and groups of people. Hen pecked or argued into submission the chaps seem to be obeying the direct line of command. Edicts issued from on high is what accounts for their outward demeanour.

For one pairing within the group its not their first time, they are not mission failure virgins.  They have a track record elsewhere and are what I would describe as serial failures. Obviously after the previous failures they are proving to be somewhat slow learners. I expect that when they have collided with enough icebergs they may begin to see where they went wrong.

For these people I have a little book, a bible of sorts. The book is called "Random Acts Of Kindness" sub-titled "365 Ways to Make the World a Nicer Place". By Danny Wallace. Random Acts of Kindness provides inspiration to the reader to practice in their everyday lives.

In a time when there is so much bad news, it's good to know that there are people out there performing Random Acts of Kindness everyday.

There is one Random Act of Kindness that this group could do for me. However as none of them are to the best of my knowledge contortionists. I think what I have in mind, would be a physical impossibility for them to perform.


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