Thursday, June 27, 2013

Global Warming

By Betsy Ashton

Courtesy: Daily Caller
Oh, dear, don't tell us she's going all political on us. This is supposed to be a blog where our readers enjoy what they find and feel better after reading it. Please tell us she's not going to natter on about carbon emissions, land fills, air pollution, floods and ocean levels. Please.

I can assure you I am not writing about that kind of global warming, although it's tempting because it's so darned scary. What I'm talking about it how each of us as writers and human beings can make the world a "warmer" place to inhabit.

How do we do that, you ask? Two ways. (Actually hundreds of ways, but two I want to focus on.) One is through our writing.

Most of us Roses write romance or mystery that entertains. We want people to read what we write, enjoy it and tell others. By sharing the pleasure of a well-written book with friends, we can raise the happiness temperature by several degrees. Doesn't take much. A nod to a friend in the super market or library. Pointing to a book in a book store. Adding a review on Goodreads, Amazon or Barnes and Noble (I always forget about B&N, so I need to be reminded. Just saying...) Buying and giving a copy to a friend. It takes such a little effort. We should all do more of it even with the insane schedule we writers maintain.

So that's one way to influence global warming. The other one is even easier. Smile.

Smile when someone is speaking to you. Nod in recognition of what they are saying. Smile to a stranger. Smile when you answer the phone. The person on the other end will hear the friendliness in your voice. If you get a smile in return, you can bet somewhere along the line others saw the smile. Shouldn't take long for it to go around the world, especially when we can also put one on Facebook or tweet it.

Let me give you two cases in point. I lived in three of the biggest cities in the world before moving to rural Virginia. And I worked in a fourth. I lived in Los Angeles, Tokyo and New York City. I worked in Washington, DC. Uniformly, Tokyo, NYC and DC were inhospitable places. Too many people being self-important, rushing around with their hair on fire, making no eye contact. You have to be anonymous to survive.

One day in Grand Central Station, a place notorious for rushing crowds and no interpersonal recognition, a friend and I ran an experiment. During evening rush hour, we positioned ourselves near two of the busiest computer gates. We smiled at everyone who entered. More than once, the smilee hesitated, missed a step, smiled back and went on. People behind the original smilee looked around to see what was happening and were attacked by the smile police. Before long, we had half a train full of people smiling like village idiots at total strangers.

LA's a whole different dynamic. We lived in our cars, safely protected from interpersonal contact. Although we raced at a grand ten miles an hour on rush-hour freeways, we never looked at drivers who crawled next to us. My girlfriend made it a practice to make eye contact. She'd wave her hands, wear a crazy hat, anything to get the guy in the car next to her to look over. And then what do you think she did?

No, she didn't flash him. She didn't hold up a phone number. She smiled and blew him a kiss. Worked with women too. That small gesture almost always resulted in a smile and a shake of the head.

Now I'm not sure I'd do this in rural America where I might be shot, but I think I going to give the smile attack a try. If I can encourage one person a day to smile, I've had a positive impact on global warming.

What do you say? Are you with me?


Paul McDermott said...

I read somewhere that we use SEVEN muscles to smile, and THIRTY-THREE when we frown, so I guess we're also doing our bit to save energy by smiling ... :)

[Posted by someone who's just submitted a 'disaster scenario' novel centred on the issue of Global Warming - and how we might prevent it!]

Barbara Edwards said...

Interesting how each city has a different dynamic and aren't you lucky for learning each. I have to laugh. I do smile a lot in New England where the stiff Yankee is alive and well. It might not make them smile in return but my world is brighter.

AJ Nuest said...

Love this post, Betsy! I'm always smiling at strangers. Always. I live in a very small community and here it's sort of a given we're gonna smile, nod and even ask after a stranger's day (much to my childens' horror). However, even when I lived in Chicago I smiled at folks. Most smiled back but, then again, at it's heart Chicago is a midwestern town. When my girlfriend and I moved to that city, she introduced me to a saying. "I'm gonna rely on the kindness of strangers to help me." Worked every time. We always got where we were going. LOL

Jannine Gallant said...

In the little town where I grew up, everyone takes it a step farther and waves when they pass on the street. When visiting Grandma, my girls used to ask, "Do you know that person?" The answer was no - everyone is just being friendly. I'm going to make a point of smiling more today!

Alison Henderson said...

I lived in NYC for a while, too, Betsy, and I was as guilty as everyone else of rushing around without making eye contact. Years later I returned with my family as a tourist and was amazed when everyone we met treated us with great kindness. I think it's because we approached them with a much friendlier, more open attitude. A smile makes all the difference!

Denise Golinowski said...

Enjoyed your post! Made me SMILE! It's such a simple thing to do and yet we hesitate, questioning the why's and wherefor's. Now you've given us an excellent answer - because it's an easy and unoffensive way to connect to the rest of humanity. WTG. I plan to try to do my part.

Diane Burton said...

A smile goes a long way to make others feel better. Even better is when they smile back. Very nice post.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Isn't it amazing what one person, and smile, can do to impact so many? I was born and raised in a big city and now live in a rural small town. I wouldn't go backwards for love nor money. Jannine's right. We smile and wave to everyone here!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Isn't it amazing what one person, and smile, can do to impact so many? I was born and raised in a big city and now live in a rural small town. I wouldn't go backwards for love nor money. Jannine's right. We smile and wave to everyone here!

Leah St. James said...

I grew up in the NYC metro area, and I also spent a few years living in D.C. I know well that tunnel-visioned (or dead-eyed) look that commuters get, especially at the end of a long day. But then, for example, you stop and talk to a doorman and ask where the best neighborhood pizza is, and you find the real people underneath. Great post, great lesson and reminder to remember that we are people and not drones. :-)

glenys said...

Interesting points! I live in rural Ontario, and in the nearest village, everyone smiles at everyone else. There's a great community, lots of social events and people look out for each other. Down the road a little there's another village. People avoid eye contact. Don't know their, is it some kind of historic/founding fathers attitude thing, or did the difference start with one brave soul smiling, years ago??? Sending everyone a big Saturday smile - Glenys