The Kindness of Conversation


The Kindness of Conversation

I reckon that it is well-nigh impossible to travel from my house into Dundee city centre on a number 22 bus without either getting into conversation with the driver or a fellow passenger, or listening to others who are clearly strangers to each other chatting away.
The journey is just sufficient time to take in an abbreviated version of someone’s life story or to hear about their latest family, work or medical concerns (so many buses in Dundee go via Ninewells Hospital).
It seems that amidst a private world of smart phones, texting and interaction with selected Facebook friends, the art of everyday face to face conversation with other people in the local community is not dead, at least not yet.
I guess this says something about the warmth and sociability of Dundonians of all ages. The same can be said of smiling. Nine times out of ten it gets a positive response. The same cannot be said of the London Underground.
We must be careful for our safety and that of others, but it is tragic that nowadays not talking to strangers or answering the door to unannounced visitors and ignoring phone calls from numbers we don’t recognise has become normal behaviour.
It is as though we have lost trust in our social empathy and curiosity about the people around us. Casual conversation is diminished and this contributes to the loneliness which so many people suffer though health, age or personal circumstances.
The Courier Community Kindness Campaign is an admirable effort to tackle loneliness with friendship. We all need encouragement to consider our neighbours and those less fortunate than ourselves. Above all we need to make time in our busy lives for other people.
The craic in my local convenience store is a case in point. It’s a mixture of those in a real hurry to pick up small purchases and get off to somewhere more important, and others for whom the conversation at the checkout is the sole interaction they will have that day. 
They say a smile costs nothing. So too the kindness of conversation.

The Rt Rev Dr Nigel Peyton is the Bishop of Brechin of the Scottish Episcopal Church

Published in Courier Saturday 18 March 2017

Categories: Bishop