Community & Culture

Is living in the city making me a bad person?

This is my second year living in the city. I can already feel it changing me – the way I see things, the way I react to others. It’s a classic case of big city syndrome or BCS, if you will.

BCS moves slowly. It starts when you first move here, and you start to notice things. You notice the alarming number of homeless people on Yonge Street, on Church Street, in our own backyard. Sometimes, they’re not much older than you or me and it hits a little too close to home. You realize how easily you might find yourself in similar circumstances. It becomes easier to just look away.

You notice how fast everybody moves. You’re on the subway or you’re waiting in line for a coffee or you’re walking down the street and it’s everywhere. Everyone is in a rush. You’ll see how people disregard each other. They keep their heads down, their lips tight, they’ve got places to go and people to see and they don’t have time to talk to you. BCS takes hold when you start to mimic the behaviour you see. You make excuses for yourself. Everyone is like this, we all have more important things to do.

The constant buzz of big cities fools us into thinking that we don’t need anyone else. The individualistic nature of society pushes us inside ourselves, but we cannot stay there for long. After all, humans are social animals.

BCS can be unlearned. It is a process of changing the decisions you make on a daily basis. It’s never easy, especially when the world gives you so much to be angry about. However, kindness and human decency are never a waste. In this world that seems to always fall short of what we need, we need to be there for each other. We should put ourselves aside when we can and choose kindness when we can.

If you have some extra money, give it to someone in need. If you can’t, consider donating your time instead. Volunteer Toronto has a list of wide-ranging volunteer opportunities. There’s something for everyone, whether you’d rather work in senior care, food preparation or even the arts.

Ultimately, it boils down to being fully present in the moment. It’s not about neglecting your responsibilities. It’s about expanding them and understanding that while we have a responsibility to ourselves, we also have a responsibility to others.

Every year, November 13th is World Kindness Day. How will you be a little more kind today? Let us know using #RUKind.

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