Do you ever find yourself despairing about ‘man’s inhumanity to man’? Do you wonder whether the wearying gender wars will ever end? Are you shocked by the violence in our society, or by our failure, even after all these years, to come to a point of true reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians? Do you sometimes shake your head in disgust at the behaviour of politicians in our parliaments? Are you saddened when you hear people abusing each other?
Yes, there is plenty of ugly stuff in the world, but that’s not the whole story. Just look at the everyday acts of kindness, compassion and co-operation going on around us all the time, mostly unremarked.
The people who stop to help total strangers out of a jam. Those who help a frail, elderly man or woman cross a busy street, or get on and off a bus. Those who, night after night, week after week, year after year, volunteer their services to help feed the poor and homeless.
Those who rush to the aid of people affected by floods or fires. Those who devote big chunks of their week to patrolling surf beaches, or training as bushfire-fighters, or coaching underprivileged kids’ sporting teams, or helping slow readers at the local school or migrants struggling with English.
The thousands of retired schoolteachers who volunteered to coach pupils who had been disadvantaged by the pandemic lockdown. The people who plant trees for the pleasure of future generations, knowing they themselves will never sit in their shade or pick their fruit. Those who always say hello as they pass you in the street, though they may never see you again.
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