Smile and the world smiles with you

July 20, 2010


We could all use more smiles in our lives. From a young age, I remember my mom sometimes saying, ???Smile and the world smiles with you.?????

Smiles are infectious.

In my daily goings out and about I have belatedly semi-embraced a philosophy that a friend of mine was mature and unselfish enough to embrace twenty-five years ago. He said that he couldn???t in good conscience pass by his fellow human beings on the street without making eye contact and acknowledging their existence. I don???t remember if he included a smile with that.

In recent times, perhaps since I moved to my new, scarier neighborhood four-and-a-half years ago, I have been more willing to make that eye contact. Maybe it???s simply a component of self-preservation. I believe that the nefarious types will be less likely to cause trouble if you acknowledge them and indicate that they don???t necessarily intimidate you. And if you give them a half-smile to boot, maybe you take even more power back.

Also, as a white, native, American, I am quite in the minority in this neighborhood which is populated largely by immigrants from eastern Africa, mostly Somalia. They tend to get a bad rap from whites like me who may not consider that, as usual, it???s a few bad apples who spoil it for everyone. I want to be friendly. When I make eye contact, smile, and perhaps say ???good morning,??? most of my neighborhood cohabitants respond with a surprised smile, then reply with their own pleased greeting. I like to think I???m doing my small part to foster good will in the neighborhood.

That eye contact and smile follows me downtown when I go to work. There I find people who are by and large like me, but the reaction is the same???slightly stunned and then, in kind. I don???t know, it just feels a little good.

I???m not looking for a pat on the back and I???m pretty sure I don???t want you to start talking to me. But I know I like having my existence acknowledged and figure you might feel the same way.

Smile and the world smiles with you.

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