by Agnes a Paris
Sat Jan 7th, 2006 at 09:49:04 AM EST
All of us did get to know, through the lessons of history or personal experiences, how mean, selfish, cruel, humankind in its collective or individual manifestations, could be. "Civilization at its extreme produces crimes often worse than extreme barbarism," wrote French 19th century novelist Barbey d'Aurevilly.
Well, I am not a lot of an optimistic myself. One of my favorite as it comes to political sciences is Th. Hobbes. Yet, this diary is about positive attitudes and positive feedback. Let me start with the anecdotes that prompted me into this diary.
Yesterday, I was running late for a critical lunch appointment and would have missed the tube had it not been for someone opening the door for me from the inside -on the Paris underground, most trains are not equipped with automatically opening and closing doors. That "someone" had the typical dress code of the youngsters who brought France to the press front pages worldwide end of last year.
Last night had been very cold in Paris and I was about to go for a ride when noticed a guy desperate to start running his motorbike, parked just next to my Suzuki Bandit 1200. The engine clearly seemed to protest been woken up in the brisk air of this early morning. I offered to help and instead of getting one of those "mind-your-business-will-a below 50 kg girl-teach-me-how-to-start-my-motorbike" looks, he smiled and a couple of minutes later, both our engines were running. True, not too often do I get a warm welcome from male bikers, but still...
Later, I was indulging into my ritual weekend treat, buying myself flowers, and spotted a young guy whose anxious instructions to the shop keeper for the selection of a fistful of red roses gave a clear indication on the identity of the lucky recipient. "I'm sure She'll love them" I whispered to him. And it was great to see his face enlightened with a shy yet relieved and heartfelt smile and hear him say "thank you, I was actually worried..."
I spent a good part of my time at (business) grade school voraciously reading all the books I could find in the sociology and philosophy sections of the library. I was much more attracted to P. Watzlawick, J. Weakland, G. Bateson, E. Hall, K. Lorenz, P. Bourdieu, H.Minzberg, E.Morin, H. Bergson, E. Husserl, E. Heidegger, and so many others than to J-M. Keynes who's actually the only one I managed to remember, having found his theories interesting, and all the financial stuff I was supposed to read. The Palo Alto school changed my approach to people and solving problems.
"Smile to people, and they'll smile back". True, simplistic way to put it. We will always find a ground to complain about how rude or uncaring people are, because they are. Yet it's worth trying. The tremendous amount of positive feedback you get when adopting a positive attitude towards people you come across everyday, well, I for one find it stunning. To those who are not responding accordingly, let us them go to hell with our blessing. It was not a great waste of energy after all.