There have been many mesages saying we have to pull together, that we have to be considerate and be good neighbours. Many people are feeling unsettled and unsure. We see many people doing things that may arouse suspicion. Some of us are being vocal in calling people out for what we perceive as anti social behaviour. But please, think before you jump to conclusions. Just because you think someone is behaving in what you perceive as an anti social manner, do you really know. Let me give you an example. On Sunday night, I took part in the Mill Hill Churches night shelter project. Part of this exercise involves public spirited citizens cooking meals for the 16 people attending. These volunteers had to source enough food for these meals. This meant buying an amount of specific foods that may have seemed to others in the shop to be excessive. It is just one example of a situation where jumping to conclusions, that seemed quite reasonable, were wrong.
I saw another Facebook post, criticising a local business in Mill Hill for being open. The person posting did not realise that the business has a crucial role in providing hygenic transport for London and has contracts with other firms, where there are contractual stipulations that vehicles are cleaned. The accusations of not being public spirited were actually well wide of the mark, as the business was carrying on, when it may have been more economic to shut.
Some of us have been asked to run errands for elderly neighbours who are avoiding shops etc. We picked up a supply of eggs for a friend who recently had an operation for cancer of the bowel. Eggs are one of a few foods on a restricted list. But those who may have felt I was buying 'too many' would not have known this. I can live with sideways looks whilst running such errands. If anyone asked, I'd be more than happy to put them to rights. But the bottom line is that when you see someone doing something you perceive to be anti social, just think. You do not know.
That person speeding up your street at 80mph may just be a boy racer taking advantage of the quiet roads to drive too fast. But they may, just may, be driving a relative who cannot breath to A&E. You don't know. The person with the overloaded shopping trolley may be a greedy hoarder, but just be doing a weekly shop for themselves, their parents, their aunty and their uncle, and a couple of neighbours who are self isolating. You just don't know.
When you see someone walking past your house three times a day down to the shops, they might be a selfish soul, who cares nothing for anyone. But they may have had a panic call from an elderly neighbour, who has run out of an essential. You just don't know.
So unless you are psychic, unless you know for sure, unless you peek through their windows, to see the dinner party after the guests arrive, take a kindly view. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Facebook is full of judgements right now. Pages are springing up all over the place, shaming 'Dodgy retailers', but do you actually know whether the retailer hasn't driven to Leicester to get extra supplies and is simply recovering their petrol costs. I've shut my business, so I am not saying this for any other reason, than because a trader explained why they had doubled the cost of a product I was buying. They said that their time and the £60 petrol bill meant the items cost more. They couldn't be sourced from local cash and carrys. It is a reasonable response, one I was happy to accept, but then I asked, so I knew the reason. Do you?