Last Thursday night, Skip and I were celebrating the week's end by sitting on our balcony and soaking up the balmy evening. What usually happens on a Thursday night in our house is we listen to music, chat about life in Dubai and how far we've come, what we like, what we don't.
Skip said to me: "I reckon every Australian should come here for a little a while."
Me: "What? Like national service or something?"
Skip: "Where else can you work and deal with so many cultures and nationalities, it opens your mind. Changes the way you think about the world."
In my experience of Dubai, I have had nothing but respect from everyone I've come across. Every person, every nationality, every situation has been so respectful. Actually, I lie, I do remember one incident involving a drunken expat which was far from respectful, but I'll carry on. I found in Australia, being treated disrespectfully, even on a small level, was part of life. So, being treated with the greatest of respect is something I've relished here.
I realise and I've also discovered that this probably has to do with the fact that I'm a white woman. It also helps that I always try to be as respectful as I can.
Each day, I go in and out of our building dropping off and picking up the kids. I get to know the people who work in my building and I always smile and greet them. I'll make small talk in the lift: "It's hot out there today! Have a good day." Encourage the kids to say hello too. Nothing remarkable, but I noticed that every worker's face lit up when I walked in. I then began to notice that other residents never uttered a word or cracked a smile and the workers' faces would drop and they'd get back to whatever they were doing.
Now, I'm no superstar for saying hello. It's just manners. I think it's especially important to be nice to the people who are taking away my garbage and wiping away my kids sticky fingerprints. These are people you want on your side. I also know people better than me who leave gifts for the workers in the building, so no, I'm no superstar at all.
A little bit of respect and kindness for another human being can go a long way. Actually, it's the most important thing. Full-stop. No one is better than anyone else. We're all humans going through the same dramas, problems and issues. Treat people the way you want to be treated. It's that big and that simple.
Reading the papers yesterday was a little overwhelming. Ten years since the invasion of Iraq and in that time 134,000 Iraqis have been killed, 4,400 American soldiers killed. More than 60,000 people killed during the conflict in Syria, including many children. The Steubenville rape case verdict.
Just reading the comments section on any of the Australian newspaper stories and it's a depressing mish-mash of disrespectful, often ignorant and hateful, views.
It's all too much to take in most of the time. So, what can I do? Not a huge amount, but I can smile and treat people with kindness. I can teach my kids that it's wrong to degrade or humiliate another human being. I can let them know that they are important, just as every other human life is important. I can let them know that standing back while someone is being hurt or humiliated is not right either.
I can teach them that you should treat others they way you would like to be treated. It's a lesson as old as time but one that doesn't seem to sink in.
Just stop for a moment. Imagine what life would be like if everyone lived this way.
Do away with mistrust and suspicion. Turn the other cheek. Imagine that every other person that you come across is just like you - trying to put food on the table, trying to create a good life. Because that's what they're doing. We're all essentially the same.
Change the world one tiny small step at a time. Smile at a random stranger. Open a door for someone. Shrug off that person who cut you off. Start a conversation with someone completely different to you and really listen. Throw out your preconceived ideas.
Treat others the way you would like to be treated. Who knows, it might be you who changes the world.