So, a couple of days back, it’s 10:30 at night, and as I’m driving home, I come to this intersection, which has a traffic light, one that people hardly follow, even in broad daylight, let alone that late at night (yeah, that’s a common occurrence in my part of the world). Nothing special so far.
But today, traffic stopped when the lights turned red. And there weren’t even any cops there to explain that. There wasn’t even any traffic from the opposite sides to warrant stopping. Traffic stopped only because it should’ve.
Earlier, I never would’ve expected to see this behaviour at this time. In fact, if some poor soul did stop at the light, she would be harassed by those behind her, by their continuously honking to get her to move, along with a few glares as they passed her by.
Not today though. Everyone waited patiently for the light to turn green. And even those behind, were calm and quiet. This made me realise that there indeed had been a gradual change in people’s behaviour. Couple of years ago, traffic used to be more chaotic. In heavy traffic, coming in from everywhere at the same time, everyone would be in a rush to get through first, often leading to jams. That’s still the case these days, but now there are more people who are willing to wait a few minutes if that means giving a chance for the traffic to decongest.
I feel individuals are more open now to take a personal “hit” if it means improving conditions for many or all others. Maybe it’s just a case of me seeing what I want to see, but I am quite pleased to see this change. And when I read reports like this that indicate that individual philanthropy is on the rise (indicating increase in compassion for those less fortunate), my suspicions are further cemented, although I know it’s a lot more complicated than just that.
Governments and political groups can spew nationalistic rhetoric all they want, but I think it’s the small actions like these, undertaken by the citizenry of their own accord, that lay the groundwork for truly making a nation great. Of course, following proper civic sense, at one traffic light, in one city, on one day wouldn’t give you a great nation tomorrow. But it does show, to me at least, that the citizens of this country are capable of being better, of improving things that are not right, that they have integrity, that they are on the right track.
Because without empathy, compassion, integrity, and all those other “human” qualities, what good are technological, economic, social advancements of a developed or “great” nation?
Photo Credit: Alexandru Tudorache