Sociologists who explore the temperament of culture often talk about the importance of pro-social behaviors. These are things like tolerance, respect, compassion, kindness and such - all things we crave as people and members of community. These are the things that make us feel good and included. They make us, and community, better places to live, work, and play. In fact, we all want to be a part of communities that manifest these pro-social behaviors.
We also know that these behaviors are associated with the social capital (relationships) in our life that spill into our communities. That is, we are more tolerant, respectful, kind, and compassionate with people we know, or have relationships with in our life. Often we treat these people better than we do strangers.
These behaviors are not only important to the primary health and impact of a community, but they have a secondary impact as well. That is, not only do we feel better when we are treated this way, but the secondary effect is that people observe these behaviors and will tend to mimic them. We know that positive behaviors beget positive responses in others - people who observe these positive gestures will tend to act this way as well. If you do something kind and respectful with another person, people who observe this will tend to be influenced to follow suit.
We have all seen commercials or advertising that show a person observing a kind act, and then acting kind with the next person they encounter. Sociological research has corroborated this phenomena again and again.
So what is the lesson here? One is that we should be conscious of how we treat others and strive to be more positive and pro-social in our efforts. Further, we should look to build more relationships with people to assure these behaviors continue. Vibrant and inclusive communities depend on it.