Human beings are a cruel, selfish, even spiteful species. We’re hard-wired to favour the strongest in our own tribes and to pick off the weakest in our rivals’. We’re cowards. We divide this planet of ours into little patches and assert our rule over what we claim as our bit using objects that are designed to hurt or kill, all while we slowly (or not so slowly, as the case may be) kill the planet we’re fighting over. We aren’t nice, generally. We’re a bunch of c**ts, to be honest. We are. It’s not our fault – this is how we were made to be, this is our natural state. It’s how we are. When asked why we’re so selfish, or so violent, the answer – as a species – can only be “we just are!”.
But every now and then something fizzles in our circuitry and we do something unusual, something against our programming. Sometimes something happens that changes the way we “just are”. Most of the time this little bug in our programming is tiny, insignificant and often goes largely unnoticed. But it means so much. This “nice thing” that breaks through all that nastiness we’ve been hampered with creates ripples that reach out a great distance. Whether it’s a progressive government making big changes for the common good on a planetary scale or a tiny act of selflessness in one shop, on one street, from one person… what I’m saying is, whether it’s an act big enough to break our “selfish genes” at the seams or just poke a small hole in the pocket of them, that act matters.
All very philosophical, right? Or cod-so anyway. What got me thinking about this tonight is something I witnessed on the bus on my way home from work. A drunk guy got on, heading home to a friend’s house early from a stag party he’d been on. He didn’t know exactly where he was going so the bus driver spoke to him and asked where-ish his friend is from, etc. After a short exchange they figured out between them sort-of-where the guy needed to get off the bus. The drunk guy sneezed and hiccuped his way through his journey and, just as he was getting off the bus – on the driver’s cue – he said “Thanks Mate, have a safe night!” and wandered off to find his bed.
Just a little exchange but it made me smile. Firstly, the driver and the guy – neither of whom knew one another – worked together to solve the puzzle of where the guy needed to be. No arguments or ego, just two strangers puzzling out a lost destination. Then the driver gave the guy the nod when it was time to alight. And then the drunk guy simply wished the driver a safe night. Two strangers – “of separate tribes” – each taking the trouble to assure the welfare and safety of the other. Nothing major, just a “be safe”. And sometimes, that’s all it takes. The driver got his fare home safely, the drunk guy (presumably) got to bed. And, unbeknown to either of them, I was inspired to write this blog.
Funny old things, aren’t we?