Ingrid Betancourt

People are unfriendly, they are rude, no one cares about you, every body minds their own business. We’ve all heard this about big cities. What causes this? And more importantly what can we do about it?

After years in captivity suffering from such ill treatment, at one point Ingrid Betancourt wondered “How could you not become an animal?” This isn’t an isolated case unfortunately. We’re all; intentionally or not, contributing to the increasing cruelty of what many refer to as the “jungle out there”. Knowing that, the most pressing question becomes:

Are we behaving like this way because it’s a jungle? Or is this jungle a child of our behaviors?

Living in London for a number of years I couldn’t help but notice how rude some of the bus drivers are. They seldom return your greeting and would happily leave you on the side of the road if you’re half a second late. Compare that to bus drivers in other cities, the difference is significant. Go to some remote area in Cambridge for example and you’ll think that bus drivers know everyone and are exhilarated to see their passengers in the morning.

Moving to another major city on a different continent, things are not very different. In Dubai it’s not rare to see certain people being frowned upon or hear them being shouted at by law enforcement because they’re often chaotic and out of line.

So where did things take a wrong turn? Is it the fault of the bus drivers in London and chaotic people in Dubai? Or shall we blame the passengers and law enforcement? Before you answer the question, consider this…

A study was made not long ago where a group of volunteers were locked up and treated as if they were the most vicious criminals in the world. The prison guards; who were volunteers too, were asked to treat the inmates like they’re animals. Shout at them, disrespect them, humiliate them and even sometimes physically discomfort them.

The volunteering inmates who were educated, successful people slowly turned into behaving like vicious criminals. Bit by bit they broke down and forgot who they were. People like you and me started acting like criminals as a result of the treatment they were receiving. They became monsters in the jungle.

So what’s our role in this? Unless you want to live in a jungle, here are a few suggestions:

1-      Be nice! It’s doesn’t hurt to be nice and polite to everyone. That includes the driver or the maid or the delivery man or the valet parking boy. Being rude to them achieves nothing. Being nice, achieves everything.

2-      Being nice doesn’t mean being naïve. Some people for whatever reason have associated the two together. This isn’t the case. You can be smart and polite yet sharp and aware at the same time. Being nice doesn’t mean you’ll let others take you for a ride.

3-      Be consistent. You might greet the bus driver and not be greeted back the first time, or the second or the tenth. But eventually, he or she will smile back at you and wish you a good morning. That’s when you’ve started making a difference in the world.

I’m going to be the first to admit that it’s not easy. Sometimes you want to shout and scream and kick these chaotic and rude people out there but know that for sure this isn’t going to get you anywhere. Understand that we all have our roles in this. Don’t wait for the others to make the world a better place. You start and hopefully one bus driver and one neighbour at a time, this jungle will turn into a beautiful garden that we can all enjoy.

Until next time,


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