Last week, I’m sure I was not alone in having tears in my eyes and a massive lump in my throat while watching the fabulous Brownlee brothers cross the line in the Triathalon World Series in Mexico. As Jonny neared collapse from the Herculean effort there was his brother, Alastair, charging toward the finishing line in third place. Thousands of us across the land barely suppressed a cheer as he scooped up his floundering brother and propelled him towards the line. Jonny’s well deserved first place was gone but Alastair gallantly pushed him into second. The swell of pride and admiration was immense. I watched them both, brothers in arms, and hoped for similar for my two boys. For them to grow into strong, decent human beings that any mother could be rightly proud of.
But it’s not really my boys that I think need to learn lessons from the Brownlees. As ever, there was a minority who rushed to have them disqualified claiming they had cheated. On this occasion thankfully, common sense and basic human decency prevailed. How could anyone be accused of cheating for simply acting in a compassionate way? It’s a trait that seems to be all too common in modern society. The need to knock others down in order to feel better about ourselves; we’re all guilty of that nagging little twist of jealousy when someone else does better than us. But that feeling is a cancer.. It eats away at everyone, the bearer of those feelings and the people around them.
How many times do we hear of the people that wouldn’t give up their seat for an old lady on the bus; of the people that openly criticise a mother who is struggling; those that feel their opinion of another’s situation is not only valid but to be taken as gospel? And do we do anything? Do we give 1 up our own seat? Do we step in and help that mother without judgement but just kindness? Do we shut down gossip rather than encourage it? If we are that mother or old lady, how much of a difference would it make to have someone offer a quick helping hand rather than tuts and stares? To feel that we are valued and included rather than looked down on and ostracised.. And let’s face it, at some point we all know how it feels to be “outside”. The inadequacy and the loneliness that come from it.
The Brownlee brothers showed us something great, something human, that we can all learn from. That no matter whether the other person is your brother, friend or a total stranger we should all be holding out a helping hand. One small action can make a world of difference to someone else; which way we influence that person’s life at that moment is up to us. So who do we want to be? Do we want to be the cancer that brings down everyone we come into contact with? Or do we want to be Alastair Brownlee? The selfless helping hand who can lift another person with so little effort on our part? If we can all stop criticising or ignoring our fellow humans and simply come together, as a community.. a family, then just imagine how much happier all our lives could be.
Photo Credit: Jonny Brownlee Instagram