At times it can feel like we’re living in a world where real change is only possible as the result of legislation. If we think back 15 years, any time spent in a pub or restaurant meant your clothes smelled of smoke and you’d wake up with a cough, all because people didn’t understand how discourteous it was to smoke around those who chose not to. If you think back five years it was much more likely you’d have to clean your shoes off after a walk in the park because a thoughtless dog owner hadn’t cleaned up after their pet.
Now, dog owners are given an on the spot fine for flouting the rules, and smokers are not allowed to smoke indoors. And in both cases, this is just the legal enforcement of common courtesy, which improves the general health and wellbeing of the public. Some see it as a shame that it is required, but there is no denying that it has largely worked.
Why then, do we not take the steps to do the same when it comes to tackling social isolation? The impact it has on the general health of a population can be just as damaging as second-hand smoke or a child catching a disease. Obviously, we wouldn’t expect the law to force everyone to wave hello to a neighbour, or pop in to see if they fancy a mince pie over the Christmas season, so it becomes a case of legislating yourself to do it, and making that common kindness and courtesy part of your daily routine.
We don’t like being forced to do things, because it goes against our very nature, but if you take a minute to breathe clean air in your local pub, or you manage to get through your public green space without having to clean your shoes, you realise just how far a simple act can go. The value of a friendly face can be so high, so start doing simple things today, and #sayhello.