People are not smiling much these days.
That’s probably because health officials are telling us to keep two-metres clear of other people because we or they may be infected with coronavirus. Understandably, many people take that to mean we should be afraid of our neighbours… but I don’t think that would be a good idea.
Fear is an extremely effective motivator, but it doesn’t bring out the best in people and it tends to make us selfish… as in it makes us look out for ourselves instead of doing what is best for the community. That’s not what we need to control the virus, or in the long-run, to carry on developing as a civilised caring society.
I have travelled and lived in many parts of the world and it seems to me Batswana culture is kinder than most, so I think the nation should play to its strength to combat the spread of the disease. The lock down needs to be a cooperative effort if it is going to be effective, because there is no way the government can use its limited resources to try to enforce the social rules it has put in place.
Well, not if it is serious about helping people who have lost their jobs and getting the economy going again once the lock-down is over.
So I believe we should all follow the measures because we believe that would be the right thing to do for our families, our communities, Botswana, Africa, the entire world… and ourselves. And I believe something positive could come out of this experience if we do it for those reasons, in that order.
Many of us have time on our hands at the moment, and if we can use that time to think about why we are following the health guidelines, I believe we will be in a better position to think about why we do other things as well. We may do some out of habit, or because that’s what other people do, or because an advert somewhere told us that’s what stylish people do.
We also may find we don’t really need, or want, to be doing many of those things, and if we can see that, maybe we will be able to stop doing them and free up time for more satisfying activities… or for just doing nothing and being open to whatever comes our way.
And that brings us to the bird picture at the top of this column. I put it there because before I started writing this morning, I had time to sit down in my back garden with a cup of coffee and stop… and while I was just being, that is what I saw.
I’m in England at the moment, and I have never seen ring-necked parakeets here before, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t crossed my path. It may just mean that when they did, I was too busy to notice them.
Anyway, the parakeets brought a smile to my face, and when I went to the store later in the day, I shared that smile with other shoppers.
And you know what? I think the ones who returned it really enjoyed the exchange.