(Dug this out of the archive. Since I leave a lot of things half-written up to 99% written, I occasionally stumble upon old things that never made it out of the drafts folder)
I was just outside, smoking a cigarette and talking to my sister on the phone. Smoking is a bad habit, I know, but don’t imagine for a second I’m going to apologize to you, or anyone else for doing it. I do the polite thing and ask people if its okay if I light up around them, or move a few steps away to not blow smoke on people. If someone wants me to stop smoking because it makes them uncomfortable all they have to do is ask nicely. I have never been asked nicely to put out a cigarette. I have on occasion gotten some smirk about being rude for smoking around others, which I rarely respond to. If I do, it is to tell whoever said it to go **** themselves.
However, as I finished my call I noticed that an elderly lady living in my apartment complex was struggling to open the front door. She was walking with a crutch, and with shaking hands tried to get her keys out of her handbag. I’ve seen this situation many times, and nine times out of ten, whoever is close by just ignores her. What I do is I stroll over and ask politely if I can help her. I don’t wait for a response, because some old ladies will start with the “you really don’t have to” etc., because it is so rare that someone actually tries to help. Instead I open the door, and step aside while jamming my foot against it to keep it open. The old lady smiles up, genuinly surprised, and says : “That was very kind of you”. – Oh, thats such a small thing I say, and give her a small wave of the hand as she enters the building.
The point of this story? Society is what we make it, and what matters are the small acts of kindness. Not the marxist machinery.
Another thing today is we’re having a small barbecue just a few steps outside the building, me and two of my sisters and my brother (with wives/girlfriends/boyfriends etc. where applicable). The reason we can do this is we all live in apartments within a 1 kilometer radius from one-another. The story goes like this : My oldest sister moved out a decade ago, and first settled in central Stockholm with her then boyfriend. When this didn’t work out, she moved to where she lives now with another guy and got kids. When time came for me to move out of my parents house (which I did fairly late – and thus I avoided taking out massive student loans), I decided to settle in the same neighbourhood as my sister. After that, my brother decided to move out, and then my folks sold their house and moved to an apartment complex as well. They all settled close to us. Now you may be saying : Who the heck can stand having their family that close? And that is EXACTLY what is wrong with the world today. People see visiting their relatives as some duty to perform because you have to, and care absolutely nothing for family values. Now, I admit, I have had quarrels with all my brothers and sisters (and parents), and at times not visited them for quite a while. The point here is that instead of moving far a part and performing the ritual of gathering at some social event twice a year, we have all made the individual decision to live close by, just in case we want to meet up and do something together. We occasionally bump into eachother at the grocery store, or just randomly throughout the neighbourhood.
The point of the second story? Either you decide that you hate your relatives and stop meeting them at all, or you decide that family matters and you act in ways to promote this. The silly “oh-we-care-but-not-too-often” nonsense is complete bullcrap. It’s the same thing as having a million “acquaintances”, which is a code-word for people you have met but don’t want to be friends with. I don’t keep acquaintances, simply because I think it is rude. I greet people I have met before, but I do not pretend to be interested in what they are up to unless they are friends of mine. Your social life is not a “game”, it is a testament to who you are and what your values are.