I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how human relations might be improved if people adopted the Quaker approach to speaking, which is to ask yourself before engaging gob (or keyboard) the following four questions:
is it true?
is it helpful?
is it kind?
is it necessary?
For example, was it necessary for a driver, when I was trying to get across a road on my bike in a limited time, to hoot angrily and repeatedly at me?
Was it kind?
Was it helpful?
It was not. I was quite proud of my reaction though: instead of growling or howling I smiled sweetly and made a gracious ‘you go ahead’ gesture. And then I was reminded of the words of the Buddha about anger: that to show anger towards someone is like holding a flaming spear by the lighted end. I can’t find the quote but I’m sure he said it – or something like it. Oh, apparently it wasn’t him although it is within the Buddhist tradition and entirely consistent with Buddha teaching:
There’s also the old saying that when you point a finger at someone there are three pointing back at you. So although I was slightly shaken by this driver’s excessive and unnecessary anger, I reflected on these things and also on the fact that he has probably shortened his life by several seconds due to increased blood-pressure, heart-rate and tension.
I’ve had a great day so far: first Tomatoes, then the Real Junk Food Cafe where, having had breakfast already I restricted myself to a mince pie and an apple. This is the first time I have been there since it opened and I have to say it’s a great initiative; collecting ‘rejected’ food from supermarkets and turning it into delicious meals which are free or ‘pay as you feel’. There, serendipitously, I ran into Christine who is going to help me with my ESOL interview as she teaches something similar; we had a really useful chat.
And so home, where I began writing to you, dear reader.