Be respectful, courteous and kind to all

THERE is no shortage of vision and mission statements, concepts and philosophies, slogans and taglines.

All are aimed at inspiring personnel within an organisation and impressing the public. But they are merely a guide without any action plan, not even the crucial first step to be taken.

They may sound impressive and those uttering them could reverberate with pride but are given only lip service by many.

They are hollow and would fall flat if basic customer or public service is lacking, such as being indifferent to unnecessary long queues, or to injustice or indecency.

Any aspiration or journey, however lofty or long, must begin with the first few steps before realising or reaching them eventually – hence the importance of respect, courtesy and kindness, without which all endeavours will not take root and would collapse under its own weight.

The recently launched Malaysia Madani concept (Civilised Malaysia) contains six core values: creativity and innovation, confidence, sustainability, wellbeing, respect and courtesy. I do not wish to comment on Malaysia Madani, as much had been written, published and publicised.

However, I wish to share my take on respect and courtesy, and the importance of being kind. Most people normally act dignified to look calm but could easily lose their cool the moment they feel disrespected by others, even though it may just be a figment of their imagination.

People are naturally selfish but not self-loving, which must be learned by accepting who we are and treating ourselves with kindness and respect, and nurture our physical, psychological, and spiritual growth. Self-love is the key to better life, happiness, and at peace with ourselves.

When we truly love ourselves, we in turn will be able to do the same for others, and so too is respect. Many people easily take offence because they have little love for themselves and do not even realise it but expect others to accord them the respect they crave because of their ego.

Cursory and shallow respect given to leaders is because of their high position but would quickly dissipate once they fall from grace.

Genuine respect should be given to everyone, regardless of whether they are deserving or not. This includes every living thing and our natural environment.

A child in the neighbourhood treated with respect could forever remember the kindness received, more so when most adults ignore them like stray cats and dogs in the vicinity. Nature should be treated with respect and not be desecrated or polluted out of greed or convenience.

The most visible virtue is courtesy, which is on display all the time. We show courtesy visually with appropriate body language and gestures, vocally using the kind tone of our voice, and verbally with the right choice of words, when interacting with individuals, groups or the public.

When driving, we ought to be considerate to all road users, including pedestrians. Instead of being forced to give way to avoid a collision, we should try to make way for others such as not driving on the slow lane when vehicles are exiting from a junction ahead or hogging a fast lane.

In my book, a learned person is not educated without showing courtesy. Wanting to be right and proving others wrong have led to endless petty quarrels among family members, relatives, strangers, neighbours and co-workers. This happens when courtesy is lacking on both sides.

If I can offer one advice, it is “Just be kind”.

Kindness is the greatest blessing anyone could give or receive, and people are appreciated and remembered more for their kindness than any other virtue.

Yet it is within reach for all of us as it is a matter of finding it in our hearts and expressing it with our smile, voice, gestures or deeds.

A recent incident that happened at Chendering in Terengganu deserves salute. A tudung-wearing woman was recorded on video bundling the carcass of a dog from a road into a garbage bag and carrying it to her car for disposal.

“This lady is an inspiration to all of us and an act done in the state of Terengganu reiterates the compassion of any religion – to be kind to all creatures, big and small,” said Sherrina Krishnan from the Pet Adoption Network.

And anyone can be successful in life by being happy, and making others happy, with respect, courtesy and kindness showing the way. With these virtues, there is no need for sloganeering or espousing philosophy, which have done little in shaping our society or building our nation.

A good example is the large number of people religiously thronging places of worship but are not God-fearing.

This is most evident among greedy politicians that indulge in corruption, and practise racism to gain popularity and power in this world, and least bothered with the hereafter. – Jan 26, 2023

YS Chan is a master trainer for Mesra Malaysia and Travel and Tours Enhancement Course and an Asean Tourism Master Trainer. He is also a tourism and transport business consultant.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


Main pic credit: My Flex Health

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