Are you as stubborn as an Olympian or a selfish stubborn person?
There is a terrible indictment on society hitting your country, your city or you today. It is something that we often shout about and define as “Standing up for our rights”, when we justify why we suddenly choose to behave this way. My friends, I’m talking about being Stubborn.
Stubborn is a word when seen in a positive way can be manna from heaven; a welcome benefit coming unexpectedly to get us through a difficult time. It can be the determination needed to pass an exam or a task slightly beyond our reach.
In Rio 2016, we will see sportsmen and women being stubborn, driving themselves to be determined and have a stubborn resilience to carry on, when every bone and sinew in their bodies is telling them to give up.
That’s the stubborn we all like to see. However the other day on the train, I witnessed an appalling display of people being stubborn that was something I couldn’t get out of my mind.
It began when I boarded a crowded, hot and packed train relieved to have got a seat. I settled down, waiting for my destination to arrive. About 15 minutes into the journey, I could see from a distance an old man had got on. He managed to wobble and shake slowly towards the centre area of the carriage. Naturally, I thought that as he wasn’t standing close to me; or where I could reach him someone else would offer him their seat. He was frail and struggled to hold onto the overhead railings, nearly falling over when trying to do so.
The demonstration of stubbornness I saw from people was extremely ugly and starkly apparent by the people who were directly sat in front and around him. They all looked away; pretending not to see him, literally and metaphorically closing their eyes, willing this man to disappear so they couldn’t see what they should have done to help him.
“If I can’t see it, it’s not happening!!!”
There was a young business man sitting cosily in his seat. He dug the headphones he was wearing deeper into his ears and closed his eyes. A middle-aged woman, who had previously been staring into space, promptly drew her newspaper up towards her face when she spotted him boarding and several other people stuck their heads high up in the air; or became deeply engrossed in posters that were plastered around the busy carriage. None of them “saw him”.
Except me. I was always taught from a very young age to help others less fortunate than ourselves; to give up your seat when someone is less able to stand. I’m happy to say that I could see on that day beyond my need to sit and be comfortable. However in order to help this man, I had to literally climb over the stubbornness of others when I came to his aid. I gently tapped him on his shoulder to offer him my seat.
His face lit up as he said;
“Thank you my darling, you are so kind.”
He was so grateful for the seat and to be able to rest. When he sat down wearily but pleased, I knew I had done the right thing even if others hadn’t.
One thing though I wasn’t at all surprised about, was when I too witnessed their “invisibility”. There was stubbornness all around and the pretence that no one had seen what had happened. People looked away, unable to face their inability to show any compassion or kindness.
When I got up to offer my seat to the man, everyone standing had become stubborn, then selfishness began as they looked hungrily at my vacant seat, poised to pounce into my seat of comfort.
I even had to give a man my best Paddington Bear “hard stare” when he tried to jump into my seat before the older man was able to get to my seat quickly.
It worked! As I saw him meekly retreat back into his book and continued to stand looking red faced and embarrassed, I felt jubilant and proud.
I’m hoping the stubbornness I witnessed on that day was just a one off (but I doubt it) and that I won’t see in the future people being stubborn and just thinking of themselves.
So, are you a stubborn Olympian or a selfish stubborn person? I hope you’re the former who will be more determined to do what is right and fair and help to get an older man, woman or person unable to stand that seat on the train. Even if you have to put on your best hard stare and hope that the stubbornness they are producing makes them quiver away in shame.