Holding the door

8
Apr
2009

Recently my roommate said something to me that I found a little surprising. We were talking about being polite and respectful to people, and the golden rule (in both its positive and negative versions). My roommate then told me that he never holds the door for anyone anymore, even though he used to. When I asked why, he told me that people are rude, they never acknowledge or say thanks and so he doesn’t do it any more. This struck me as missing the point a bit. I don’t hold the door (or give my subway seat to a weary traveler, or do any other nice thing for people) because I am demanding something direct in return. Some people will appreciate it, some won’t or will be indifferent. The reason for holding the door is because it is a nice thing to do, and it helps other people. Maybe they will thank you, maybe by setting an example, you encourage others to do the same. But whether or not down the road people do nice things for me, it is still the kind of world I want to live in. That world is a world where people realize how interconnected we all are, and strive to help everyone around them, in small or large ways. And in so doing, realize that in being kind to others, we are being kind to ourselves. It certainly won’t be that kind of world if none of us participates in its formation.

Comments

  1. Christa says:

    Absolutely- well said, Stephen. You’re right- we lead by example. Happily, our work and home neighborhoods in Berkeley have this feeling of interconnectedness, with even strangers exchanging friendly hellos as we hold the door open for one another. Most people, but especially the elders, really appreciate these gestures. Some don’t bother to notice, I suppose…. but who cares? Possibly they are having a bad day, etc… I find it uplifting to give the benefit of the doubt, rather than dwell on their negativity. Have fun creating positivity in NYC!

  2. Stephen says:

    Thanks Christa!

  3. amanda says:

    I agree with you 100% Steve–kindness and just common decency are sorely needed today–so DO YOUR PART!!! and I always say “thanks” for a door held, etc.