(This editorial appeared in the Vallarta Tribune, edition # 1167.)
When we read about incidents such as the August 3 mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, TX in which 22 people lost their lives, or drug-related killings that go on in Mexico—you know, those incidents that local English media outlets are so adept at not sharing with you—it becomes inevitable to ask oneself: is it safe here? Whenever such a tragedy takes place, the powers that be will try to defuse the situation with assurances that things are—or will be—ok by implementing this or that legislation, maneuver, procedure, etc. Sometimes the assurances produce a favorable result, and sometimes they don’t. We live in a complicated world.
Considering our day-to-day existence, it would seem that, as individuals, we have very little scope and power to affect the safety of our world or to offer one another the necessary assurance to feel safe in light of such tragic incidents. But the subtle dance between security (or lack of thereof) and assurance goes on at many different levels, many of which are definitely within our reach to affect and improve.
Do you go through life being mindful of those around you and volunteering assurance whenever possible?
For example, consider the following scenario: you’ve had a less-than-perfect day and not wanting to deal with cooking dinner, you head to your favorite restaurant to pamper yourself with a nice dinner and a cocktail or two. But you are in a lousy mood, so you sit down at your table and grunt for a menu without greeting your waiter or even looking in his eyes. Guess what? You’ve just given your waiter no assurance that further exchanges between you two will improve. In fact, you’ve probably given him the assurance that it’s going to be ‘one of those nights!’ The waiter is expected to offer you top quality service no matter what, of course, but chances are the evening would be more enjoyable for both if you take the time to greet staff with a friendly smile.
It goes on the other way around: when you walk into the restaurant, the host is taking care of seating other guests. Aware that this might take some time, he turns to you and says “good afternoon, this may take a while but I’ll be with you as soon as I can,” and smiles. This person has just acknowledged you and given you the necessary assurance (hopefully!) to break down your lousy day barrier and for you to wait a bit longer if needed without losing your cool. By the end of the evening, you may even forget what you were so upset about when you walked into the restaurant! That said, had the host not acknowledged you, your mood might have reached fowler depths by the time you were seated.
Do you go through life being mindful of those around you and volunteering assurance whenever possible? If not, you should try it once in a while. I know these humble gestures of kindness, acknowledgment and assurance will have little impact on massacres or drug-related crimes, but I think they can go a long way in improving the quality of our lives on a daily basis. After all, who wants to find themselves in unfavorable situations at home, at work or in life, without positive assurances that things will be ok?
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