Kindness Prevails: Day 28

I guess I should be very thankful for Twitter, because yet again I came across an awesome piece of writing that made my heart very happy.

It was written by a journalist who lives in New Orleans, about how much she loves the “neighborly” element of living there. In Louisiana, and the South in general, it is common etiquette to smile at your neighbors and get to know them personally.

You can check out the full post here, but I wanted to touch more on something that reading this made me think about.

Kindness is universal, no doubt about it. But when I think about the different places I’ve lived in and travelled to, kindness etiquette is actually so different around the world. Different places have certain acts of kindness and attitudes that are accepted and expected.

I’m from Louisiana, so being “neighborly” is something I’ve always known. Everyone in Louisiana knows their neighbors- you smile at them, you ask them how they’re doing when you cross paths, and you invite them over for coffee or something to eat. It is the kind thing to do, to get to know and look out for each other.

In Switzerland, where I lived for ten years, I had some neighbors who I never even met. It was very different, my family lived in the city and we moved apartments a few different times over the years. It wasn’t wrong, it was just different- and something that my family always pointing out as being odd, coming from an extra friendly Southern background. Instead,  common Swiss kindness etiquette is something like holding the tram door open for the person running to catch it. It’s the right thing to do.

Then I moved to Boston, where I found people to be very introverted, and slightly intimidating, at first. Bostonians definitely like to keep to themselves, which is something I learnt very quickly after the various confused stares I got the first few times I smiled and said hello to random pedestrians. But then I became accustom to the little things that are so very “Boston”. Common etiquette here ranges from letting fast walkers pass you up on the sidewalks, to not wearing a Yankees hat.

Kindness comes in all shapes and sizes, but it’s safe to say that if you’re at least trying to be kind, wherever you may be, you’re doing it right. Next time you go somewhere new, just be sure to check up on that place’s sports rivals and other cultural “faux pas” and you’ll be just fine 🙂

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