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Kindness costs nothing

Have you ever sat down and really thought about the world we are currently living in? One where teachers are no longer allowed to comfort a distressed child in case they are harboring pedophile tendencies and it’s the same world in which we kill each other at the drop of a hat. When it comes to the milk of human kindness, one of two things is happening; either the teat has run undeniably dry, or we have developed severe lactose intolerance. Either way, the situation is bleak, the future is grim and the lack of philosophical milk calcium in our diets is making our bones weaker, in particular our backbones.

You only have to look as far as the daily news to discover just how far we have fallen. It’s as though ‘love thy neighbour’ has been irreversibly replaced with ‘envy, resent or even kill thy neighbour’ and it’s not good enough. How are we meant to claim that we are part of the ‘civilised’ world if all we do is continue to promote inequality and death. Think I’m trying to be sensationalist? I’m not. If I was, I’d be making sweeping gestures, aimed at specific groups of people and yelling about it on Twitter. Oh hang on… am I taking yet another cheap shot at Katie Hopkins? Well yes, I am as it goes, because she is one of the people that, I feel, has directly contributed to the society that we find ourselves suffering in, but let’s take a look at how we got here before I totally assassinate a woman’s ‘career’ and ‘ethics’.

It would be an exercise in futility to try hone in on exactly when the human race decided to stop being a united species, what with the countless wars and small scale disputes that have taken place, but if I could estimate when things started going really wrong, on a cellular level, I would say… the year 2000. Take a second and see if you can guess why that year has become synonymous with the fall of humanity. No? Let me enlighten you; that was the year the first ever Big Brother series aired and simultaneously heralded the end of privacy, accomplishment and notoriety for valid reasons.

At first it seemed like a harmless bit of entertainment didn’t it? I can still remember working at my first proper job and listening to an office full of colleagues excitedly wondering who would be evicted that week and all being convinced that ‘Nasty Nick’ was going to get his comeuppance, but as the weeks went by and he didn’t, I started to feel uneasy. It was strange to watch a group of people interacting, while totally unaware that one of their group was inherently uninterested in being part of it and set on his own agenda but this wasn’t what made me feel odd. I didn’t ever phone up and vote to evict anyone, but I found it bizarre that the worse Nick acted, the longer he remained, because he was considered to be good entertainment. People were actively enjoying his twisted manipulation and when he was finally released from ‘the house’, what was his reward? A career in television. Boo, hiss. What a pantomime, only he’s not behind you, he’s right in front of you, earning more than you for nothing more than cutting into your precious leisure time and the sad thing is, he’s not the only one.

Since that first Big Brother, the media has been spawning ‘reality’ concepts at a frightening rate and gently encouraging us to mock, look down on and revel in the ritual humiliation of our fellow man. X factor isn’t a talent show looking for the next big singing star, it’s a thinly veiled firing squad taking aim at those who yearn for a better quality of life, with Cheap Shot Cowell leading the charge and we are actively supporting it by watching in our millions. That’s how we got to where we are now; the birth of social sensationalism. #CheapShotCowell

Katie Hopkins is a prime example of everything that is wrong with modern-day media. Not only does she offer nothing in the way of talent, she downplays her intelligence for almost comedic effect and has become the archetypal pantomime villain, while being given increasingly prime time slots on the television and columns in daily newspapers. Excuse me, but when did the inarticulate, unfounded and deliberately provocative opinions of a nobody warrant national and even international attention and applause? Why are we paying for her irrational rants and, more recently, her health issues? Are we really interested enough to watch her gorge herself and subsequently lose the weight again, only to continue her campaign of fat shaming while doing it? No. Are her thoughts on children’s names insightful enough to warrant a slot on This Morning? No. And yet there she is, just lapping up the undeserved notoriety and building a plinth with all of her earnings to look down on us all from. Call me old fashioned, but these aren’t the actions of a valuable member of the human race, but I know what the solution is.

Thankfully, I’m not alone in recognising the plight of our species and there are others who see the importance of making a change for the better and taking an active stand against the rot that is infesting us. Let’s not get carried away here, we can only opt to make small changes on a day-to-day basis, but even the smallest gesture of thoughtfulness or kindness can have a gargantuan impact thanks to the #payitforward initiative. Simply put, social media sites are encouraging users to carry out small, random acts of kindness in the hope that it will inspire the recipients to do the same. Think about it; if everyone experienced a little thoughtfulness with no ulterior motive or agenda, how much more willing would they be to pass that feeling on?

So here I am making a plea: please #payitforward this week and be generous with your kindness. Even if you just help someone to their car with their shopping or just take the time to actually sort through your rubbish and put the recycling in the right bin to make it easier for your refuse collectors. It’s these small gestures that retain our humanity and keep us separate from the animals and we need to be separate, otherwise we might start thinking we have the right to go around killing whichever ones we want, without paying for our actions. Oh hang on… #jesuiscecil.

by M. Baxter


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