“And if you turn away from them seeking mercy from your Lord, which you are hopeful for, then speak unto them a gentle word.” (Qu’ran 17:28)
The Qur’an stipulates that whenever we are incapable of fulfilling the needs of someone (because of of a lack of means or insufficient funds for example), though we may often turn to God in prayer to assist the needy, we should also uphold good manners and reassure them with kind words.
Recently, I’ve come across a significant number of articles on suicides. The victims are typically (although not exclusively) in their teenage years, and factors such as supposed bullying are often blamed as an incentive/trigger. Next time you come across such an article, take a moment to think about this: What has happened? Why has it happened? Could it have been avoided? How so? What does this mean to you and I as striving morally-principled human beings?
It upsets me, because I see it as a societal failure. It’s a prevalent problem and I don’t think the citizens of this world are trying hard enough to implement preventative measure to help minimise such incidents. When you interact with another human being, the information you decipher from that person is proportional to how much they consciously or subconsciously reveal to you. Naturally, we base our judgments and our assumptions on that which we know (despite how little it may actually be) and are in that respect oblivious to the different factors that govern their lives.
A vast proportion of the victims were driven by some form of social isolation and/or victimisation. In their eyes anyway, their suicides were not merely an escape from their torments, but a final statement of protest; an outcry to the world they were so disappointed by. Perhaps it was sympathy they sought, but you couldn’t blame them.
The real question you and I need to ask ourselves is: what can we do with the limited freewill we have to be a force for good during our lifetime? This is one particular avenue I wish to focus on.
You see, whether we like to admit it or not, humans are very self-conscious and, to varying extents, they do care about how they are perceived and treated. For example, we’re conditioned to think that “bullying” is a premature culture restricted to school playgrounds, and that as “bad” as it is, it will inevitably disintegrate over time as children age. We fail to examine it for what it innately is: an attack on a person’s self-esteem, confidence and peace of mind.
People, whatever stage of their life they may be at, are subject to different trials and tribulations. For some, it’s health problems, for others it’s family, financial difficulties, relationship drama, social issues, and so on and so forth. For others it’s a combination! It’s becoming a lot more standardised to self-diagnose one’s self with “depression” (I say self-diagnose because the human mind is very powerful. If you’re convinced you’re clinically depressed, your body won’t just shake it off like that).
So we can appreciate a large chunk of what constitutes to such a fragile state of mind is beyond our (as an external body/spectator) control. So now, when such a person with an accumulated burden is exposed to a barrage of abuse by peers/friends/family etc (as sugar-coated or superficially insignificant as it may appear), there is a potential for their tolerance level to be tipped off the scale. In some instances, sadly, this is manifested as a suicide.
At this point, I want us to introspect: We do not know the full circumstances of another person’s life. We don’t know what sorrows they conceal, nor do we know what daily battles they endure. All we know is that we are the custodians of our own actions, and it is our actions that may have a positive or negative bearing on a person we interact with.
This world needs more healers. We need good role models to inspire their social circles and ignite a chain of proactive compassion. When it comes to kindness, don’t discriminate. The way you conduct yourself for maybe even a few minutes may be a much-needed consolation/therapy. It could be a restoration of faith in humanity for that person. Or at the very least, it wouldn’t be a push in the wrong direction.
Here are 5 small things that could unknowingly make a world of difference to someone:
- Smile: It sends the right signal, and is often contagious.
- Make the person you’re interacting with feel valued: do you know how demoralising it is to feel that your opinions are meaningless? Do you know how energising it is to be listened to?
- Be polite: in a world infested with patronising remarks and sarcasm, good manners are a breath of fresh air.
- Show kindness: how you do it is dependant on the circumstances of that particular interaction, sometimes a reassuring word suffices.
- Pray for them: It’s the best gift you can offer anyone. Especially if done sincerely and in secret.
You will never know the extent to which you have touched the hearts of those you meet, but in a world of counterproductive gestures and self-esteem crises, you can’t afford to be passive.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”