By VICTORIA SARNE
Something a little different this week. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am someone who treasures the small gestures in life. They will give me pause for sincere gratitude and make me smile when I recall that moment, although it may not have been a big deal at the time for the person responsible.
I am writing this on another wet Friday morning, having had two positive experiences within the same half hour and the same space, both of which gave me good reason to think it was a fine day after all. I had a meeting with a young Bahamian man who I had never previously met, who wanted to chat informally about a potential business idea and we agreed to meet at Starbucks. I was impressed with how serious, cautious and thoughtful he was about the start-up process; the time he had already taken to think things through, and that he was wise enough to know he still had questions which needed input from another source. This was young man number one.
The second young man was leaving Starbucks at same time we were and gallantly put up his umbrella over me and walked me the short distance to my car. If either of these men read this, trust me and believe that you made my day!
There is more than one point to this story. Firstly, never underestimate the value of good manners or a spontaneous, thoughtful and genuine gesture; it says a lot about who you are as a person. In this case it may only have been a matter of a few raindrops, but it tells me that you would offer assistance in a bigger situation if it were needed. Secondly, never be afraid to ask the questions you need answers to; it also demonstrates your character and shows that you are mature enough to know that we all have questions from time to time. None of us have all the answers in all situations, and we don’t need to.
The other motivation for this story has been a bug in my brain for years now. I have asked newspaper and social media publishers more than once, with no results, about the absolute necessity of keeping a balanced perspective in what passes as news. I don’t want to hear the old saw of an excuse about what sells newspapers or what supposedly people want.
What we all want and need to hear about are positive happenings, events or people, always in short supply compared to the volume of negative reporting. I believe it is especially important in this country, or any small community for that matter, to give leadership and support to young people, particularly the young boys and men. We are bombarded constantly with all the bad stuff some of them get up to, and I believe that negative attention-seeking is a symptom of what is broken in any society, and that perpetually focusing on such behaviour to the exclusion of everything else only serves to re-enforce that behaviour and fuel a pessimistic attitude in everyone, not just the perpetrators, but the community in general.
I know there are many caring, thoughtful, hard-working, young men out there hoping for a better future for themselves and their families, just as I know there are many agencies, groups, service clubs and older individuals already helping formally and informally. My point is we need to read about it, hear about it, because just as negativity begets more negativity, the opposite is true. Positive talk, positive action, evokes a positive reaction. People need good news, hope, and a belief that a decent future is possible and attainable.
So here’s my challenge to local press and media: statistically girls and young women mostly seem to be doing better than their male counterparts, so how about focusing on the boys and young men with some “feel-good” stories? It doesn’t have to be about becoming a doctor or a lawyer or succeeding academically or internationally. I want to hear (and I’m pretty sure the general public does too) some positive news about the small things young men are doing, either for their families, friends or immediate community. Let’s motivate each other. We are all part of the same picture, and as Mother Teresa is quoted as saying, “We can’t all do great things, but we can all do small things with great love.” And I say, there are many small pieces in a jigsaw puzzle and every single piece is important and necessary to complete the picture.
• Victoria Sarne is an entrepreneur and writer. She headed a team to establish a shelter for abused women and children in Canada and was its first chairwoman. You can reach her at email@example.com, visit www.lifelineswritingservice.com, or call 467-1178.