Janetta Mackay: The brash shall not inherit the Earth


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As Christmas messages go it's a depressing one, but the more I watch people in action the more I think the shouty and the flashy are elbowing aside the polite and the considered.

No surprises that being pushy sometimes gets people places, but it's the lack of awareness about the displaced that's bothering me. Me, me, me, selfie.

In the last few days I've been shoulder-charged by some uncouth youth who couldn't wait to get to the bar, joined a growing queue in a cafe while some food bore endlessly interrogated the counter staff, and seen a local lad nearly miss his bus when a speeding driver sailed past the stop.

What these three incidents had in common was a total absence of any remorse from the offenders. No wonder, when the standard craven public apology now begins: "I apologise if I have offended anyone ..."

The social situations I witnessed were saved by how they were handled by those around them. Passengers asked the driver to stop, which he reluctantly did, allowing a sprinting passenger to make the last bus.

The harried cafe worker very discreetly rolled her eyes and told her patient customers she was sorry to have kept them waiting. We smiled in sympathy, but not half as much as I grinned upon walking past Ms Pure Eater to hear her husband say, "Why didn't you get me a pie?"

As to the bar-room bruiser, he was lucky no-one decked him, but the general consensus of "what a dickhead" speaks well of how people mostly manage to rub along and rally together, even under provocation.

It gives me hope. Once I would have elbowed the bruiser back and risked getting whacked. Drink less, think more.

When I find myself getting snippy and snappy, I try to take a deep breath these days, but I've got a long way to go to find my inner Zen.

This time of year is sent to test us. Deadlines and stress loom large and much of it is self-imposed silliness. To the chorus of "Let's catch up before Christmas?" try saying: "How about mid-January?" (if they indeed mean it, at all).

Clear the decks so you can focus on family and friends, and, if you are lucky enough, count and share your blessings. The other day at my daughter's school prize-giving they played a short film called Look Up, exhorting the screen-obsessed to engage with the world, eye to eye. A popular message with the parents, of course, but it seems it hit home with the teenagers too.

My 13-year-old vowed she would only put on WiFi for half an hour a day during the holidays. We'll see. Here's to sunny days and flat batteries.

With New Year looming we all inevitably start making resolutions of how to approach it. A little bit more engagement that doesn't involve putting yourself in the centre of the frame on all occasions seems a fine way to start.

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