The Change – On the Counter and In Our Conversations

I went to my son’s school to get him a few notebooks. A boy at the counter was buying himself a sheet of school tags. It was Rs. 12/-. 
He gave the lady a twenty rupee note and she was pissed… as though he had nicked a sheet from under her nose. 
I was taken aback!

Few seconds later, I heard a boy scream in the corridor, “Man, are you autistic?!”
Apparently, it was supposed to be funny. 
Laughter followed.

Two incidents in a span of ten minutes that reflected zero sensitivity, zero respect and zero understanding of the situation or the people. 

Which got me thinking, what is the point of an education, if we can’t create an environment of sensitivity. 
I understand empathy, tolerance, consideration and respect are not lessons or formulae that can be rote learnt. 
These are lessons that are learnt through life. They are seen. They are imbibed. They are soaked in from the environment, taught through our interactions. 

Had the child at the counter been spoken to with respect, treated with consideration, then he too may reflect the same. Not not because he must, but that’s the only way there is. 

Had the boy in the corridor understood what autism truly means, the pain of an autistic person or the struggles of looking for resources for an autistic family member, he would not use that word so casually; so indifferently. 

How can we expect our kids to speak respectfully and treat others with sensitivity when we are not able to show them the same regard? 

People do not carry boards that tell us about their days…
They do not hold up signs saying, I am having a bad day; my mom is unwell, I am rushing to the hospital; I am grieving; I have not slept three nights…
There is no way we can figure what another person is going through; the emotions that are building up in that very moment. We cannot understand what is unspoken…

But we can understand that everyone is struggling and fighting their own demons. 
That everyone is going through something; something that you and I may not have experienced or dealt with; 
And in that understanding, we can extend a kind look, a helping hand, a patient word. 
In that understanding, we can ignore a harsh remark and a thoughtless act. 

That understanding allowed me to dig up the exact change at the counter as I bought my son his books; 
That understanding will make our children create a world that is so much better than the one that you and I currently occupy. 

Small Things that can make a Better World

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