Dirk Lotriet
2 minute read
21 Jun 2019
9:30 am

Most of us are real jerks… but we can change that

Dirk Lotriet

A small act of kindness or even just a smile can go a long way towards making our world a better place.

I came to this humbling conclusion last weekend, when Snapdragon pointed out some of my shortcomings.

They say men fall in love with women because they never want them to change. Women, on the other hand, see men as a restoration project which they can convert into what they really want.

I don’t believe in this kind of pop psychology, but sometimes I can’t help but wonder.

“Do you know what’s wrong with you?” she asked.

“Yup,” I replied. And then I started to count down my often-mentioned character flaws: “I don’t use enough dish washing liquid when I do the dishes, which indicates an irresponsible personality. My car is dirty, which shows disrespect for you. I need a haircut…”

“Yes, yes,” she said impatiently. “That’s true. But your big problem is that you are a man. And men are jerks.”

I tried to be fair: “All men aren’t jerks. All jerks aren’t even men.”

“Don’t mansplain to me,” she said sharply.

After serious introspection, I realised despite the flaws in her logic – I am indeed a jerk.

Unlike some of the nicer people around us, such as the Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg. Or the South African girl who has launched a campaign to help older people to get the most out of their cellphones as a labour of love.

But those are the exceptions. Most of us are jerks.

Just think of all the glum, impatient people I see on the road to Pretoria. Or the JSE listed private healthcare and school groups who pretend to do a community service while they make huge profits for their shareholders by wringing the last cent out of the cash-strapped South African consumer’s pocket. Or politicians and some churches and loan sharks and banks and Eskom…

Let’s change that. A small act of kindness or even just a smile can go a long way towards making our world a better place. Let’s show some love for those who share our homes, our cities, our lives.

That is exactly what l’ll do this weekend. l’ll smile at Snapdragon. And maybe even sing her a song. Not that singing is an act of kindness – with my voice, it is cruel punishment. But she deserves it, because, just like me, she can be a terrible jerk.

Dirk Lotriet. Picture: Alaister Russell

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