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Almost missing the bus


We have rejected the original foundations of decency and are now trying to hold up society with a whole new set of rules.

File Picture: Phando Jikelo, African News Agency (ANA)

SO THERE we were; the bus was idling on the tarmac in front of the Kimberley Tourist Centre, and the passenger I had brought had to scurry to get her bags weighed and tagged.

No, it was not in this young lady’s DNA to be late, but this time she had been caught out. Why? Well, simply because the buses departing from the Kimberley Tourist Centre were NEVER on time.

Usually passengers would find themselves waiting for between a half-hour to several hours for buses.

And it’s not all the bus company’s fault. They are always doing their best to be on schedule. However, stop-go delays on the national roads and the state of some of the highways has been making it difficult for buses to stay punctual.

The young lady running around, dragging her bag and saying a hurried goodbye to her family was aware of all of these problems, and this one time she had let her guard down, probably thinking, “they have never been on time, and they will never be on time. So I can relax.”

She wasn’t very relaxed as she darted around checking if she had everything she needed for the trip. By the way, guess who was lugging two bags across the tarmac as passengers and bus crew glared at these tardy people causing the delay?

My ears were hot with embarrassment.

My generation is seldom caught out like this. I don’t know, but most of the people I know that are roughly my age would rather be a little ahead of time than dead on time or a tad late. It was just drilled into us to be considerate, and not let others wait on you if you could help it. A lot of what was drilled into us was to think of the next person.

I don’t see much consideration happening these days. Everyone seems to be in their own bubble and people outside that bubble don’t seem to matter to them. Delay people because your taxi needs to stop in the middle of a busy road to pick up or drop off passengers – no problem, my hazards are flashing.

Don’t indicate your intention to turn, because you are holding a cellphone to your ear and can’t be bothered with the tiny lever next to your steering wheel – so what? I needed to take (or even MAKE) this call.

Walk three abreast in the street while there is a wide and perfectly good sidewalk right next to you, causing cars to have to brake or swerve – it’s all good, at least my shoes are not getting dusty.

The older folk are asking, “What’s happening to the world? Why are things in such a mess?” I actually wonder about that myself.

The other day I was trawling through YouTube – you know, at the time that I should have been in bed, but was saying to myself, “Ag man, this video clip is just five minutes long.” And the next one, three minutes, and the next eight, and then six … until before you know it, you find that it’s 2.30am.

One talk in particular got me thinking. The speaker was saying that everyone is speaking about “The Decline of the West”, and if we look around, we can see the foundations are unsteady. He then made a suggestion as to why he thought the decline was happening and, in fact, gaining momentum.

“Western society is based on Scriptural principles,” he said; quickly adding, “I am not talking about religion – whether it be Judaism, Christianity or Islam, for example. I am talking about the PRINCIPLES of Scripture: kindness, selflessness, generosity, mercy, love, compassion, and so on. You find this in all major religions.”

He then said that we are now living in what is being called the ‘post-religious age’ because the world has outgrown the superstition and fear mongering of religion. As a result of shedding Scriptural principles, the western world is also drifting away from those basic principles of decency, he added.

He then cautioned that principles cannot be policed by threats – these days you can get into trouble if you make inflammatory comments in a chat group. Not only that, you can be prosecuted for agreeing with what was said and, would you believe, even for not challenging the comments.

It’s exhausting! And that could be why foundations are weakening … We have rejected the original foundations of decency and are now trying to hold up society with a whole new set of rules.

It’s like we are trying to move to a new foundation of a kind of police state mindset where everything must be monitored and controlled, with threats of being prosecuted, persecuted or cancelled hanging over violators.

By the way, the very word ‘society’ doesn’t even hold much value these days. As far as I remember, a society was a world where people actually socialised. A community was a group of people in communion with one another. These days we are so isolated and withdrawn, I doubt that we can even be called a ‘society’ any more.

If you think I am going overboard, just ask yourself how often you see groups of people these days sitting together, thumbing away at their phones, in a world of their own?

These days we are becoming more and more isolated, and increasingly so; and we are starting to LIKE it; even embrace it!

Maybe these days we should be called a ‘bubble-ciety’ or maybe a ‘cell-ciety’.

So why am I ranting and grumbling like this? Didn’t I just last week speak about being a bit happier? Well here’s the thing; in a recent online article I read that scientists have found that a major reason for dementia is social isolation, which causes changes in the brain structures associated with memory, according to a study by the University of Warwick.

The article said that researchers at the University of Warwick, University of Cambridge and Fudan University used neuroimaging data from more than 30,000 participants in the UK Biobank data set. Socially isolated individuals were found to have lower grey matter volumes of brain regions involved in memory and learning.

In other words, as silly as it is for a young person to assume that because a bus is usually late, it will always be late, similarly, it’s stupid to believe that cutting ourselves off from others will magically create a strong, cohesive, functional society.

So, before prices really get out of hand, go and grab that long postponed coffee with that friend, pop in for a visit like we used to in the old days, start that Bible study group you always wished you belonged to … It’s long overdue.

Maybe we need to restore as much of the old foundations as we can, while we can.

Oh, and while you are there socialising, leave your phone on airplane mode, or even better, leave it at home.

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