Matt Collamer - old man searching for human kindness

I don't watch much TV these days - there is so much dross around. I can't stand reality shows; I used to like action films, but I can't cope with the violence any more. I tend to watch documentaries. I especially like watching shows which demonstrate the wonderful work done by so many for so many others. I'm talking about those people who demonstrate their humanity by giving their time and often their money and their skills to help others who really need help and support.

One of the UK programmes I like to watch, is called "The Woodland Workshop", where amazingly skilled people are asked to create a gift for someone who has done a lot for others. The person asking is usually a recipient of the love and care and enthusiasm of the person, whom they wish to thank with a personalised gift. And the stories are so varied: some work with the homeless, some with veterans, some with victims of disease, some with migrants and asylum seekers. In just about every case, they are individuals who don't think of themselves as special: they just see a problem, and they just help. It's never about greed or money or fame. Just doing what's needed.

Here in Switzerland, there is a show called "Happy Day", which showcases some of the those in need and provides them with help and support, even to building interior work. This, of course, is a public programme, but nevertheless, people are being helped. My lovely lady friend, Regula, started a charity, initially to help and support the female asylum seekers, who are the most vulnerable. 10 years on, it now has a café, offers language courses, a men's group is now added as well as writing service, a clothing exchange and food kiosk. All, run by volunteers.

All these stories are wonderful. Look around you, and you'll see what some of your neighbours are involved in, or friends and relatives. It's actually quite staggering. All the parents offering a home to other children, all those looking after someone in the home who is too old, too sick or damaged to manage by themselves. All those helping neighbours out, granny's looking after the grandchildren. Just so much is done. For no financial return.

And then, there are the charities! So much help again offered by volunteers. Watching "Comic Relief", the UK show where comedians donate their time to raise funds. The show shows many of the charities they support: those finding food for hungry families, getting winter clothes for those who don't have any, running homeless shelters, cleaning up rivers and beaches, etc., etc. Filling the huge gaps which governments don't cover. Without them, every country in the world would collapse into disarray.

It's what makes me cry, when I see the love expressed by those people helping and the wonderful thankfulness of those receiving the help. It is the only thing that makes me cry. Love. And there is so much around, being expressed through a thousand kindnesses every day.

When I compare those selfless people with that which politics offers, the gap is so much greater. Civil Servants, who are largely (depending on the department) neither civil nor do they serve. They have forgotten that they are paid by the taxpayer and employed to help them, not look for every possible means to not do something. In the UK, the so-called "Horizon Case" where thousands of sub-post office people were prosecuted and persecuted for accounting mistakes caused by the software used by the post office in the UK.

Kindness, selfless help, so often seen at the individual level and so seldom at the macro politics level.

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