Some things just aren't teachable. While you can teach math and music, for example, you can't teach aptitude for either. I seem to have some of the former and none of the latter. In the case of music, I'm not tone deaf. But, I don't have the natural skill of a classmate of mine in college who would amaze us with his imitation of Jerry Lee Lewis. He never had taken a piano lesson. It was all by ear.
Something that is teachable, even to animals, is helpfulness. Dogs can be taught not only to fetch sticks and newspapers but to guide blind persons through busy intersections. If dogs can be taught to be helpful, it stands to reason that humans could pick up the skill as well.
It's called "customer service" in business contexts. In its simplest form, it is what most of our mothers tried to teach us. That we have to have formal courses to teach us to pay attention to the obvious and to lend a helping hand is a bit sad.
My wife and I went into a nearby Home Depot several weeks back to pick up one of those home-repair items we seem to need all too frequently. We knew we needed a thingamabob to fix our broken thingamajig but weren't quite sure which part of the cavernous store to search first. We were hoping against hope to find a kindly clerk with an orange apron who could be persuaded to help us. Not every trip we've made there has merited particularly high scores on the helpfulness scale. So we really needed help and were a bit apprehensive about getting it.
Whoa! Two people near the entrance greeted us, welcomed us to the store, and sent us to the department we needed. Another busy fellow in his orange apron spoke to us as we passed him and the customer he was helping. Then, when a store associate asked if we needed help finding something, he walked us to the right area, gave us a couple of choices, and explained the difference.
As we left the store, we commented on the changed atmosphere from our recent visits there. We agreed that we liked it. And the toilet works now.
Two or three weeks later, I ran across a report that Home Depot had put all 300,000 of its employees through a mandatory course in helping customers earlier this year. Cashiers with an empty line were taught to find a customer waiting in another line. Workers collecting carts in the parking lot were taught to leave cart-collecting to help customers hauling bulky purchases to their vehicles. Being helpful seems to have become part of everyone's job description.
The Bible is filled with statements about God as a "very present help in time of trouble" or the "helper of his people." Perhaps part of our being created in his image and likeness is that we should learn to help one another.
It's more than a business issue. It is critical to being authentically human.
The LORD is with me; he is my helper (Psalm 118:7 TNIV).