Wednesday, 3 March 2010

THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS (2)

My girlfriend is always telling me that people are essentially good. That that’s their default position, and it’s social, economic and political (or in a nutshell, capitalism) antecedents that cause them to behave otherwise. Several instances this week suggest she’s right.

Since moving here, I been amazed at people’s generosity – with their time, with advice and help, with tools I don’t possess (most of them). Nothing is ever too much. Even the GPs here seem blessed with unyielding philanthropy. I remember growing up, when all doctors, as a rule, were gruff old farts, who’d patronise, intimidate and dismiss you, their bedside manner leaving everything to be desired; the three I’ve seen at my local surgery so far have been extraordinary, the antithesis of those priggish, pompous arses. They’ve been human, kind, egalitarian.

And then there’s a friend of a friend, rich with practical skills that baffle me, who’s solved one electrical conundrum, and is already onto the plumbing denouement that’s stumping the rest of us. All for ‘a few beers sometime’.

Neighbours pop in on their way out, asking if something’s needed. Fellow writers have taken the time to offer support and advice on projects past and future, without me even asking. A shopkeeper gave me something for free the other day, merely because the sun was shining.

Cynicism is going to be seriously challenged living here.

3 comments:

Ivan said...

Do you realise that your girlfriend is an anarchist? The root belief of anarchism is the essential goodness of all people.

TOM J VOWLER said...

I have some empathy with anarchists, Ivan, except they have no coherent plan for after the devastation. (I think she'd regard herself more as a socialist.)

Anna-Marie said...

Isn't it funny how all the world seems sunny and bright directly after a positive acknowledgment of one's efforts? I think your optimism will last long as your success is great! I am in agreement with your girlfriend. It makes for a much more relaxing life. I think one needs to begin with that premise in order to have dealings with strangers these days, online say. If I ever start to suspect someone is a bit dubious I give them the benefit of the doubt and that makes me feel a lot less stressed.

For a second there I thought you were being a bit shallow by saying that your friend of a friend was rich, but also had practical skills. Then I did a double take and read it the right way. I didn't think you were the type to be much impressed with material wealth :D