I was writing on something else, but just had to stop and open a new words document. The word “kindness” came to my mind. “Kindness” brings me to the other BIG word popularly used by Jamaicans, especially those who grew up in the rural areas of Jamaica. The word is MANNERS. When my grandmother was alive, her favourite quote to her children and grandchildren was, “MANNERS TAKES YOU THROUGH THE WORLD.” This was a big deal for the older folks in the small community I grew up, so instead of ranting about how kind you should be, I am going to tell you how the GOOD MANNER PRINCIPLES have impacted my life.

Manners for me can be defined as having respect for those around you by carefully selecting the words that you mention to them during any particular time you interact with the said persons. I am sorry, but, this is the definition I am going to stick with. Growing up in my small community meant that I always had to say “Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening” when passing older community members. It meant saying ‘thank you’, ‘excuse me’, ‘you’re welcome,’ etc. If for some reason these words are not used, someone would often complain to parents and children would be punished. In these places, the entire community raise children. My mother lives in Kingston and if it’s a case where these words were forgotten, even she would receive news that her child “have no manners”. 

Kindness in a strange City

However, when I moved to Kingston, using the GOOD MANNER PRINCIPLES became a lot harder and seemed bizarre and out of place. Why? Because people often ignore you and when I forget to use it I am not reprimanded for it. This is especially so for the “time of the day greetings”. I wanted to stop, but it is something my grandmother ensured never leaves. When I first started to use the words when passing persons, I would often just be stared at, ignored, or received a nod. My sister often laughs explaining that I waste my time. But as time went by and I go from the bus stop to home and vice versa, people started answering. I even made a few friends who would look out for me when I walk through the park to ensure I am safe, a few who would make a few jokes which adds a little laughter to my day and there are some who simply smile. I made friends from simply greeting people at different times of the day or from just smiling or waving. 

Sometimes I even meet a few people who I showed respect in the past who ended up helping me. Whether it be at the bank when the lines are too long or when applying for new schools but need financial help. I always receive kindness from simply showing kindness. 

It cost nothing to be kind. It is one of the most inexpensive gifts. Being kind means that you could be making someone’s day and for me that is AWESOME. 

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