Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kindness Is Not Dead, We Just Ignore It

This is a great video. If you have a spare 20 minutes, you won't regret it. Funny, thought-provoking, and feel-good without giving up the core of serious thought that makes so many TED Talks worth watching.

This guy's presentation got me to thinking on a line of thought that other TED Talks and my own experiences got me started on a while back. The world really isn't that bad of a place, something yesterday's post alluded to, although in very somber, morbid tones. We tend to get caught up in the bad stuff, the disasters, the violence, even though those events are a very small part of what goes on in many places, especially the types of places my readers are likely to hail from. The world, outside of areas of extreme poverty, is a pretty safe place and one full of people willing to help, people who aren't murdered, and people who don't murder.

There are bad people and bad things happen; I just don't think they're as common as we normally think. We tend to perk up and pay attention when bad things happen. It's a useful trait. Back in the day, it kept us from eating that poisonous fish that killed Ug the week before or trying to play hide and seek with a bear cub because we remembered what happened to Ug's dumbass cousin. (Don't worry, Ug's family tree died out long before you came around.) It's just that it also keeps us from realizing that the world, and most of the people in it, isn't such a scary place anymore.

You'll have to forgive my syrupy positivity today. The air conditioner in my classroom died after lunch yesterday with a faint puff of smoke and a wave of ozone and burnt dust. I spent half of my day sweating and trapped with whining 16-year-olds in a windowless room at the center of the building. I mentioned this to my principal this morning and she was reaching for her cell to report the problem before I even finished my second sentence. The cooling system was repaired before lunch. That's just one small example of why my current boss is quite possibly the best one I've ever had. It's a shame that to leave the classroom for a more appropriate work environment that I'll probably have to leave this school.


courtney said...

Yeah, there's plenty of good in the world. That's why it pisses me off when people say they don't read the news because it's depressing and all bad stuff. On any given day, I bet there are more positive stories than depressing ones in any newspaper. People just don't remember the story about the new children's hospital wing as much as they remember the terrorist bombings.

A Free Man said...

Y'all both sound Southern. You've actually got the kind of Southern accent I like - mild and clearly spent more than a few days in school. Your wife reminds me of my Dad, he sounds more Southern than a lot of people that actually grew up there. But as you point out, words pop up that betray him - and your wife - as carpetbaggers.

I'm glad that you guys did it, I think it's a fun game. I'm going to try and get my partner to do it with her real accent and her fake American accent - which is too good not to hear. Or too bad.

Thanks for featuring me as your quote of the however long!

Julie said...

I think people aren't thankful for small things. They don't even notice. I always try to thank Matt for all that he does. Every time he takes out the trash or mops. I thank strangers for holding open the door.

I just think that most people are looking for something bigger and don't realize.... hmmm. I'm about to go off on a pay it forward tangent. I'll save you some time. You can watch movie or that episode of Oprah.

Chris said...

Well, I hope I don't piss off Courtney, because I am going to partially blame the news. However, it's the TV news that I've got in mind. Watch any of the local Atlanta news stations at 6:00. The first 10 minutes is basically what I call "the body count" --- who got shot, who drove their car into floodwaters and drowned, who else got shot, who got arrested for last week's shooting, etc.

But, of course, the viewers are as much to blame as the newscasters. We consistently put crime dramas and hospital dramas at the top of the TV ratings. The only way people will watch something with a positive theme in large numbers is if it's absurdly over the top, such as Extreme Home Makeover, which you have appropriately criticized in the past for promoting the "bigger is better" mentality.

I'm done. Sorry to rattle on. My life is good and full of relatively good people, to agree with your point.