Kindness is more important than ever

Washington Post’s science writer Sarah Kaplan reports (March 31, 2020):

Psychologists are worried about the long-term effects of our new, socially distant reality. Decades of research has shown that loneliness and isolation are associated with high blood pressure, chronic inflammation, weakened immune systems and a host of other health issues.

But there is also hope in the data. Studies have revealed that human connection — something as simple as getting an offer of help from a stranger or looking at a picture of someone you love — can ease pain and reduce physical symptoms of stress. People who feel supported by their social networks are more likely to live longer. One experiment even found that people with many social ties are less susceptible to the common cold.

Spread Goodness and Kindness

In a USA Today op-ed on Sunday (March 16, 2020), 16 doctors, epidemiologists and public health experts explained how staying home is the most critical action people can take to blunt the spread of the virus….

“If you’re going to spread anything, spread help, compassion and humor,” the group wrote. “Above all, do not panic. Remember: Like all outbreaks, this too will eventually end.”

“National health-care experts rally behind ‘Stay Home, Save Lives’ initiative,” The Washington Post, March 16, 2020, 8:26 a.m.

 

Dogs – Barkers and Neighbors

The ‘barkers’ never get the idea that I’m a friendly neighbor.

Mostly, my neighbors’ dogs have gotten used to my presence. In one case, for instance, I lived in an apartment where I shared a landing with a neighbor. I had to pass her door every time that I entered and left my apartment.

I wasn’t surprised that her dog barked as I climbed the stairway up to the landing when she first moved in.

Soon enough, though, this dog recognized my footfalls, not to mention my smell. It would still run to the door to check out what was going on, but it didn’t bark.

If this dog had had any doubt whether I was friend or foe, I greeted my neighbor with a friendly “Hi” and a friendly face.

Contrast this with a ‘barker’. The driveway of the family home abutted our neighbor’s driveway. Nearby, starting at the end of the driveway, my new neighbor had three dogs. (That’s a story by itself.)

I hadn’t yet learned the lesson of this post – that some dogs never stop greeting a neighbor with barking.

I had some friendly conversations with my new neighbor, visible to the dogs. In order to stop the barking, I naively asked my neighbor if she minded whether I bring over some dog biscuit crumbs to share with the dogs through their chain link fence. She told me that it was fine.

The dogs got used to the idea that I might have some biscuits. Two of them were well trained. They eagerly sat down. Sometimes, I gave them nothing, though; sometimes some biscuit crumbs. Regardless they didn’t bark.

The ‘barker’ never stopped barking – whether I fed him or not. He was actually so high-strung that try as he would, he couldn’t really sit. He’d lower his rear end, and then up it would pop.

Where I live now, I pass a neighbor’s doorway on my way to a laundry room. His/her ‘barker’ still won’t stop barking at me. At times, this dog even barks when hearing the building’s front door open.

It looks like I have a ‘barker’ as a non-neighbor.