It was one afternoon while unwinding at Starbucks at the new Grand Metropolitan Mall, upmarket sister mall of Metropolitan Mall, when I noticed a store banner was on the floor. A man had nearly sprawled on the ground because his foot got caught in one of the spines. Luckily, he didn’t. He looked at the banner, his forehead furrowed in a frown, and walked away. Was he mad at the banner? And that is when I decided to observe humanity. Will anyone be mindful and, without being feeling put upon, pick up banner and set it up right?
Back in elementary school, my class mates and I were drilled endlessly in being mindful of the people and surroundings. We, for instance, always had to throw our trash in the rubbish bin; we also had to pick up the litter that we see and throw it in the bin. We acknowledged someone when we see them in the hallway by smiling and saying, “Hello” or “Good morning”. Naturally, when someone is carrying too many things, we’d offer help carry some. And when someone is injured, we’d rush to get the school nurse from the clinic.
A security guard walked on by. He was oblivious to the fallen banner.
Being mindful became second nature to us. It was part of our character. We didn’t need to be reminded all the time because parents and teachers were also mindful of good behaviour and right conduct. The adults had character too. There was cooperation between parents and teachers – if teachers took care of the children’s behaviour outside of the home, parents were undeniably in charge with the home front. Apparently, that cooperation has long since disappeared and the children have been left to wallow in the abyss of ignorance, which, at times, turns into a feeling of entitlement. Being mindful is now a thing of the past, which has resulted in my having to give a lecture every now and then on the concept of good character (read: being mindful) in between English lessons. Admittedly, it becomes tiring and frustrating because children seem to have been born with short-term memory and there doesn’t seem to be any support from the home front.
A throng of people chattering away missed the banner by a few centimetres. The banner still remained on the floor.
The reason given for unmindful is “Times are changing”. This statement has become the convenient answer for anything going wrong in the world. Times are changing, indeed, but it seems to be an ineffectual excuse for anyone with an iota of intelligence to use to cover up for one’s ineptitude and the utter lack of mindfulness. Is there a correlation between changing times and forgetting good behaviour? Are changing times a license to become boorish?
Two employees from an eatery in the mall spotted the banner on the floor. I thought they would solve the little problem. The other, pointing at the banner, nudged his colleague as if telling to pick it up. He simply gawked at it then they walked out of the mall.
My training kicked in. I stepped out of Starbucks and picked up the banner, setting it up right to greet would-be customers. Back to my Asian Dolce Latte and Dickens, I could see the smiling faces of my parents and teachers from JASMS. There is simply no excuse not to keep in character, not to be mindful.