Say hello and watch the walls fall down

Amidst the smokescreen of antagonisms manufactured or otherwise that exist between some of the many diverse communities in Britain, there is a huge swathe of people from all of these different communities who have never actually met the people with whom they have issues with and instead have chosen to believe the here-say and tittle tattle that exists within their communities, or that which is manufactured in the popular press. Here lies the problem, we don’t even know each other and yet we make these huge presumptions about each other without ever having met.

As one of the many solutions that are available as possible mechanisms and strategies to bring us closer together and stop the ongoing antagonisms between different communities, I propose a very basic tried and tested human approach, it doesn’t always work, but does in the majority of case, allow me explain: I live in a part of Bolton that is very mixed in terms of different communities that make its population up, indeed in the small Avenue where I live the countries of origin include Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Poland and Africa. Including ourselves there are two British Families living on the avenue, there were two other British families who suffered deaths in their close families and moved away from the avenue.

Shortly after moving into this area I noticed that their were antagonisms and a lack of interaction between different people living here, this wasn’t something I wanted to be part of so I took a very human approach that started with saying good Morning and Hello to my neighbours whenever we met in the street whilst going about our respective business.

Over the years that we have lived here we have received Iftar food from our neighbours at the end of Ramadan, one Muslim family bought us a box of chocolates to say sorry after one of their lads kicked his football against our van, we receive Christmas cards every year without fail from our Muslim Neighbours, the African guy that lives two doors away from us has given us pizzas from the unit where he works and I have shared and seeds and plants with two of our neighbours, and it all started by saying hello!

Don’t get me wrong, there are still issues that pop up from time to time but because there is a dialogue in place and some sense of trust and understanding, these issues never degenerate into silly ongoing feuds. In other avenues and streets on the estate there seems to be less communication going on between the different folk who live there.

I can remember the surprise looks on some of my neighbours faces when I smiled and first said hello to them, all responded with a smile and a return hello, and this is what its about, being human and treating others as human beings instead of judging them on their theological or national badge. I also remember thinking ‘what if I say hello or good morning and they don’t say it back’, but that’s the chance you take and in most cases people will say hello back, if they don’t then at least you made the effort in making the first move, which is a brave thing to do in itself.


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