Being mindful of others

This is my column today, May 25, 2014.

A colleague in the human resource management profession wrote about it in another daily recently, but it is a topic that has been in my mind in the last few years.  In fact, I considered it as subject for a dissertation except that I was hobbled by the lack of a reliable survey instrument.  I am referring to what my colleague referred to as the dismal lack of “mindfulness” among many people today.  There are just too many people in the world who seem to have no regard for other people. 
I am afraid that if we don’t make a deliberate and conscious effort to teach our young how to behave in communal spaces and show respect for the time and the efforts of other people around us, this lack of mindfulness will fester and eventually lead to the collapse of the very values and traits that we are supposed to be proud of, and known for, as Filipinos.
Let me present 10 things we can do, or conversely, stop doing, as a sign of respect or courtesy to other people.  
First, we can stop treating chairs in churches, terminals, parks, etc, like they were our personal properties just because we got there ahead of others.  I have seen how people would automatically claim chairs in public places - put their bags, jackets, or books on the seats beside them in so that others could not occupy them.  Thus, in many airports, one can see many people standing on aisles or sitting on the floor because chairs have been claimed by others for their bags and other personal things. 
Second, I hope motorists learn to give way to each other particularly at junctions when a two or three lane street begins to narrow down into a one lane alley.  Logically, people should simply take turns.  But most Filipino motorists are seemingly unable to comprehend the concept of “taking turns.”  The end result is that everyone gets stuck in traffic.
Third, I wish that people would automatically occupy only the left side of an escalator keeping the right lane free for those who are in a hurry and want to run or still climb the escalator like it were a stationary stairway. 
Fourth, I wish people would pay heed to public warnings and reminders.  For example, it always astounds me why we cannot seem to get organized when boarding airplanes.  Regardless of the number of times ground personnel ask people to stay seated and wait for their seat numbers or groups to be called, people still tend to cram the boarding gates as soon as it is made known that boarding is about to begin. The same impatience is displayed as soon as planes land – people start to stand up and retrieve their hand-carried baggage even before the plane is officially parked.
Fifth, I really wish parents would have the maturity and courtesy of taking bawling children out of churches particularly during the consecration.  It’s just disrespectful to others who wish to worship in peace and with solemnity.
Sixth, although most restaurants who offer buffet food post warnings about leftover charges, the truth is that many people still get more food than they can consume.  They end up wasting the food such as wrapping them in napkins and throwing them in the bathroom.  I’ve seen many people do what they thought were creative tricks such as hiding leftover food under fruit peelings or seafood shells.
Seventh, I wish people would always make it a habit to put their phones in silent mode when in public places such as moviehouses, churches, or even restaurants.  Or for that matter, learn to keep their phone conversations to a minimum while in public because, really, the world does not have to know the latest indiscretions of your friends or the awful things your househelp did yesterday.
Eighth, when transacting at an ATM and particularly when there is a long line, I wish people would have the courtesy of planning their moves to help move the queue faster and more efficiently.  It’s just frustrating when after standing in line for an hour, the person in front of you starts searching her bag for her ATM card only when she got in front of the machine; or worse, counts the money the machine coughed up thrice, and stashes the bills into separate wallets, pockets, and compartments of her bag while still holding up the queue.
Ninth, I wish groups who want to document their bonding moments realize that not everybody has to take pictures using their own personal cameras and phones.  It’s admittedly a small matter, but when there are other groups that also want to have their pictures taken at the site, or when the group is blocking the way, the inconvenience it causes to others can be major. The person with the better camera can just tag everyone else in social networking sites anyway.
And tenth, I really wish people in social networking sites don’t take liberties tagging other people in photos that promote products or dubious announcements, or indiscriminately share unverified information, or for that matter, use social networking sites as their emotional garbage can. 


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