As you will know from my previous blogs, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. One of the characters, Albus Dumbledore, says about kindness, ‘just like your mother, you’re unfailingly kind. A trait people never fail to undervalue.’
He says this when talking about Harry and his mother Lily, in the film, Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince.
Well, this week World Kindness Day fell on November 13th, and I agree totally with the character’s comment. People don’t value the importance of kindness! However I do – and anyone who lives with serious allergies will always value the kindness of strangers.
I’ve been on the receiving end of unkindness far too many times, due to suffering from food allergies. People in all sorts of situations have dismissed my serious health issues, as me being selfish, fussy, and difficult.
Also, some of these people were completely dismissive of how serious an anaphylaxis reaction is. I’ve had this from airline staff, restaurant staff, café staff, supermarket staff, hotel staff and fellow guests or passengers. More times than I can count. It started at school from other pupils, occasional staff and it has continued throughout my life. Sadly, I expect it and it never fails to hurt. Therefore when someone is kind, that is just wonderful.
Occasions where, due to my allergies, I’ve felt belittled by unkindness
· I have been in situations where I have had to leave eateries, because they can’t provide allergen free food or don’t even want to take the time to have a conversation with me about what they serve. This is embarrassing for me, and puts all of the emphasis on it being my problem, not theirs.
Making someone feel uncomfortable about themselves, in itself is unkind.
· When I was at primary school, I was often made to sit alone at lunchtimes and felt excluded from normality. Young children need to feel included in things, think about the children who often don’t get picked for sports teams, because they’re not particularly good at that sport….
Well, being made to sit alone at lunchtimes, away from your friends, missing out on conversation is like being turned down every day!
· In the past some schools would display images of children who had health issues, around school, where everyone could see them. This meant, the other children would often make fun, because they didn’t understand. They often, don’t understand how unkind their ‘jokes’ are. Luckily, this doesn’t happen these days, as it is not acceptable to share children’s’ photos around public areas.
· Once whilst arriving to board a flight home from Europe, at the boarding gate, I asked the flight attendant if she could put out an announcement, asking other passengers not to have nuts, because I am extremely allergic to them.
Another member of staff, shouted at me, in front of everyone, telling me that my request was an infringement on other passengers’ human rights.
There was no consideration for my life, whatsoever. I’m sure that, if she had asked everyone, telling them that I could die if exposed to nuts, they would have understood. However, my human rights were completely ignored, and they suggested I wear a mask (this was way before the pandemic, so none were available), which I couldn’t find, and they couldn’t supply. It was suggested I didn’t board – having paid for this flight, that wasn’t going to be the answer. Instead, I spent the entire flight with my jumper wrapped around my mouth to try to minimise the risks.
I felt, embarrassed, humiliated, and singled out, due to that person’s complete lack of kindness.
In this week, and beyond, please consider other people’s situations, sometimes which you may not be aware of. Don’t jump to conclusions, and don’t belittle kindness! It takes so little to be kind, there may be reasons you cannot see or understand around someone’s behaviour.