Bob Pointer - CFIL Global
What counts for trust and respect today? We are all part of the connected world. Like it or not we are all now impacted on by technology and would be lost without our little box of tricks we call “smart phones” (who thought that up is a genius the phone is smart not the user!).
We all use to some extent social media and share parts of our life with our friends, friends of friends and friends of friends of friends etc. However, there is much evidence which supports the proposition that whilst we are becoming more technically savvy we are becoming less aware of what relationships are in the real world. We are becoming what an acquaintance of mine Nick Looby calls in his recently published book “Modern Zombies” glued to our devices.
Alongside lack of attachment comes the right to say online things you would never dream of saying or doing in the real world, trolling, voyeurism etc. Empathy for others and respect are not high on the agenda. But it has not always been that way or has it?
My fathers simple life revolved around hard work as an engineer on a Thames tug and his family.
One of his greatest pleasures was to read, he could recite whole passages from Charles Dickens novels and was a regular visitor to our local library where he would spend hours immersing himself in his favourite past time. The library was around a mile from our house and every two weeks he would religiously make the journey to replace or renew his books on his old bone shaker bicycle which was one of the only possessions gifted down to him from his father.
Back in those days in the late 1960s there was an element of trust and faith in others and he would routinely leave his bicycle propped up against the wall of the library whilst he spent time there.
I remember him arriving back home that fateful day looking sad and tired but not angry, even though his beloved heirloom had been stolen.
My father was a principled man who believed if you wanted something you saved for it. We never had credit or owed anything to anyone. And so, he saved for a new bicycle and eventually he purchased one and against his beliefs, as he liked to always see the good in people, he bought a lock and chain.
Sometime later he visited the library and left his bicycle chained by its front wheel to the libraries drainpipe. When he returned it was still there chained to the said pipe but unfortunately the frame and back wheel had been stolen.
My father never visited the library again.
This sad and slightly amusing story came back to me when I read the quirky and more recent story of the hitchhiker robot.
Hitchbot the creation of researchers from Ontario’s McMasters and Ryerson University was made up of odds and ends including wellington boots and gardening gloves. He was designed as a “social robot” to test how people would behave when confronted with what is described as a “technical novelty”. In his lifetime Hitchbot travelled extensively across the US and Canada as the guest of those who found him or passed him on.
It proved to be a life affirming display of human spirit and generosity inevitably played out over social media until the fateful day when his final tweet was posted which read,
“My trip must come to an end for now, but my love for humans will never fade. Thanks friends”.
After all of the experiences Hitchbot had been exposed to, being photographed in New York at Stadiums and on beaches, he was found via his inbuilt GPS tracker decapitated and trashed in a parking lot in Philadelphia.
The connection between these two anecdotes are that, to me, they can be perceived in two ways. I could be negative and highlight how both stories highlight the ability of human beings to let themselves down. But I prefer to highlight how both these stories illustrate that the clear majority of people still today respect others and their possessions. It is this respect that allowed my father to leave his bicycle unchained for many years and for Hitchbot to have his adventures.
Reading this you may find my conclusion overtly simplistic but I have big shoes to fill and after years of seeing the cruel and dark side of humanity I am now enjoying being my father’s son committed to respecting others, because I truly believe that on balance of probabilities they will live up to my belief in them.
Respect for ourselves guides our morals, respect for others guides our manners – Laurence Stern
For my Dad - in my eyes you were the most noble man who ever walked this earth
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