Hello. It’s a simple word, isn’t it? Yet, I wonder how much we think about how we’re using it.
This past weekend (Saturday, November 21) was World Hello Day.
Apparently, it’s been running since 1973, though I’d never heard about it before.
According to the website, the annual event was conceived to show people that conflicts can, and should, be resolved through communication and not violence. The idea is that clear, honest communication breeds peace.
Though it initially came out of the pain of warfare, I can’t help thinking we still need to learn those lessons.
And not only to resolve conflict, but simply to maintain that human bond, to share compassion, understanding – to just reach out and show another person they’re not alone.
If you ever read the piece I wrote about dealing with homophobic trolling in the wake of my Dangerous Rainbow TED talk, where so many were urging me to block and report all the haters, I took a different approach.
You see, I firmly believe an awful lot of hatred in our world is borne from ignorance. And though I’m not anti armed forces and understand that, sometimes, tougher measures are necessary, I do believe there isn’t nearly enough readiness to find common ground in the world.
So, for every nasty comment on my social feeds, I replied politely and invited people into a dialogue.
Some, of course, were way too wound up in their hatred and indoctrination to engage, but some entered into conversation with me and we did, indeed, manage to find a new level of understanding and acceptance.
I think we’re sometimes too quick to block. Too quick to hit out. Too quick to dismiss. And that only reinforces the bubbles we all live within.
If we’re not careful, we’re heading for more and more division and fall out, and that cannot be good for us all long term.
So, this week, with World Hello Day just behind us, I want us all to consider the power of such a simple word.
If you come across someone with a different opinion, how about saying hello and actually trying to learn from one another? Maybe there’s a way to find common ground and celebrate the differences, without needing to convert.
Whatever people’s politics, they might be sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, doctors, nurses, careers, feeders, teachers, fishermen, sports fans… they are far more than their voting record. You may have far more in common than in opposition.
Even beyond those areas of potential conflict and disagreement that might be soothed with a little more open-minded, open-hearted discussion, what about all those people you’re connected to and never contact?
Pick up the phone. Get onto social media. Open your email. Whatever you prefer. Drop them a line, just to let them know you’re thinking of them.
Out of the blue? Sure! But World Hello Day gives us the perfect opportunity.
“Hey, Bob. I know we haven’t spoken in forever, but it was just World Hello Day, so I’m just dropping you a line to say hi. How are you?”
“Hey, Alice. We’ve been connected here on LinkedIn for goodness knows how long, and we’ve never spoken. So, as it a just been World Hello Day, I’m saying hello. How’s life treating you?”
Who knows what positive effect that tiny message might have, in a world where so many are feeling worn down by the corona-coaster and everything else.
Hello. Tiny world. Two syllables. Power-full potential.
Get to it!
Until next time,