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Be Nice!

Let’s face it, to say 2020 has not been the greatest year in recent history, is an understatement. But let’s not bash ourselves over the head continuously, as we need to work together to help improve our lives.

I do get quite tired of the negativism people feel they have to share, about our politicians, our government staff, our healthcare system, our retail friends, etc.

I remember a conversation I had with my father, when I was about 11. I was complaining about something and he told me the best way to change what I did not like was to find a better way of doing it, rather than chastising someone for making a point I disagreed with. It was an impactful conversation, which stayed with me my entire life. He went on to say, we are surrounded by many negative people, otherwise we would have ‘go’ lights instead of ‘stop’ lights and our dogs would not think their names are ‘no!’.

He asked me how many people would buy a newspaper if the headline read ‘Airplane makes safe crossing over Atlantic?’ The answer of course is very few. People can’t wait to scoop information about mistakes people make, deaths of public figures, weather phenomenon and so on.

I write several articles a month and get a number of emails and comments about them. Most are positive, but it never fails, the first comment I usually receive makes reference to a typo, or spelling mistake, not the content. I guess it makes the author feel good. We all need constructive criticism to grow, let’s make sure it’s positive.

I remember my first published novel, back in the nineties. I was very proud when I saw it on the shelves at Coles, and when I returned home, I was greeted by a letter in the mail. In the book, I had made reference to a battleship, which I stated was a 7,000 ton, armoured cruiser. The person who wrote the letter had served on the ship, and said it was actually 7,069 tons. I can live with the comment, but he went on to say that I should have all my facts right or ‘maybe choose a different career’.

I was blown away by the comment, and think about it every time I read people’s factually incorrect remarks in newspapers and online, especially online: now there is a whole new source of frustration.

My point is simple: before you throw negative comments out, think to yourself, are you saying this to improve a situation or just to tell people how smart you appear to be. It is really unfair to criticize, especially in 2020, when people are trying their best in an unprecedented situation. Sure, if you don’t agree with someone make your point, but make it to them, and make sure you offer a solution.

Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on Rogers TV, the Standard Website or YouTube.

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