Grumpiness is on the increase for sure?
We had moved into a new location. The neighbours were not welcoming. “We’re greenies’ they said, but not in the environmental energetic committed way. What they meant was, ‘We smoke Marihuana’. They assumed we were spoil-sports, non-drinkers and non-smokers, neither tobacco nor the other stuff.
One Saturday morning, just after our arrival, a woman we did not know dropped in to say ‘Hello’. We chatted for a long time. She invited us to visit her, spoke of barbeques, and our small son playing with her children. It sounded wonderful. This was a community connection we were missing.
But after about 50 minutes, she raised a different topic. “I wonder if you’d be interested in a business proposition”. My heart dropped. I had been down this road before. In a loud and grumpy voice I blurted out, “Oh no! Not pyramid selling!”
I offended her. She stood up and announced. “Yes. It’s a great idea; and I’m leaving.”
We lived in that location for another ten years. We never saw her again. My grumpiness closed down that relationship. My guess is that hand happy people are not grumpy people.
For years, Finland and Denmark have been the happiest countries in the world according to the ‘United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions’. I have watched many documentaries about these countries on the internet. I have also viewed quite a few of the feature films produced in these countries. What has impressed me about the films they produce is how much these Nordic people love blood and gore. It is a feature in many of their movies. Not like Hollywood slaughter where the camera pans away when the body splits open. Nordic film makers show you the lot – blood and guts, intestines, sex organs; nothing is spared. It sets me imagining these happiest people in the world, whiling away the long evenings in their heated homes on award-winning furniture, sipping French wine and watching dismemberment and disembowelment. Is this the antidote to grumpiness?
To a simple soul like me it seems like a contradiction.
I have been talking with my associates. “Do they feel our world is getting more aggressive, more abrasive and less trusting?” Everyone I have spoken to says that it is. I watch the Australian news daily. There are straws in the wind that Australians are getting more picky, more judgmental. The Australian Open Tennis in Melbourne has been known as ‘the Friendly Games’. Not anymore! Crowd behaviour at all sorts of Australian sporting events has been marred by heckling and irritation that has sometimes led to violence.
We have our own contradictions. It is generally agreed that here on the Coromandel we live in ‘paradise’. But something is happening. Every day in 2024 I have heard someone talking of an incident of irritation, or rudeness. My perception is grumpiness is growing even here. On Wednesday 3 January, Sir Dave Dobbyn and his band entertained at the Coroglen Tavern. A large crowd attended. I wasn’t one of them. My friends were and they told me something interesting. A highlight was Dobbyn’s song ‘Loyal’. The huge crowd sang along with their hearts. They knew all the lyrics. My friend told me hearing the crowd sing was an emotional experience. It was as though they were caught up in a beautiful dream. I’m thinking that an antidote to increasing grumpiness could be ‘loyalty’.
Think of it. The internet condenses the knowledge of the world onto our phones. There are so many opinions from so many different ‘experts’, ‘authorities’, ‘prophets’. In the end we are tempted to trust no one. So many families are broken. Couples have walked away from each other. Marriages that the participants thought would last have crumbled into pieces. Many young people experience all that physical intimacy has to offer at an early age. But the experience leads to nothing. It’s a passing bit of fun. “That was a great night but now we move on.” On to where?
Maybe the human heart longs for people we can trust. Loyalty is about promises that will mean something over time, intimate friends we can rely on for the long hall; Leaders, politicians whose word can be trusted.
Was that why people were misty-eyed when they sang, ‘Loyal’. We want others to be like that to us. We want to be that very thing to those to whom we have made promises. My guess is that ‘Loyalty’ can start now, with us. Forget about past stuff-ups. Do it now. Live it now. Loyal!
“Call me loyal
I’ll say you’re loyal too
Know you’re loyal
I feel your loyal truth
Call me loyal
I’ll hold you loyal too
And we are loyal
Keep it that way, baby
We are loyal. “
Caption: Dave Dobbyn singing Loyal at his Coroglen Tavern concert on 3 January, 2024.