“”Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.”
— 1 Peter 3:8
When the mower comes to the vacant lot near our house, they mow the edges of the property and leave. They don’t pick up litter first.
That means that perfectly refundable cans with nice smooth, safe edges become mangled shards of sharp aluminum. Sadly, it’s the kind of stuff a child could step on.
It’s litter made worse.
Even more sad is that litter made worse is just one example of life made worse.
Last night, I read a post on Facebook by a person I am acquainted with. Without repeating it, the post showed a photo taken clandestinely of four people in a coffee shop playing a game of Settlers of Catan. Written in his own words, his comment pointed out that the four people were dressed “unfashionably” (to be nice), had beliefs different than his, and was genuinely demeaning. It was cruel. I didn’t expect this from him. So far half a dozen people have liked his post, which saddens me. This man is also the parent of a friend of my daughters, which saddens me more.
Metaphorically, this man took the lawn mower of his views and cut down the grass of another group of people. When he did so, he ignored the litter and created shards of sharp insensitivity lying in the grass. Shards for others to step on. He made life a little bit worse.
I’m always saddened by this kind of “societally-tolerable” discrimination, whether on Facebook, at a job site, a church, or anywhere else. It makes me wonder how my own children will be treated when they grow up.
I didn’t respond to this man’s post, for fear of sinking to that level. It was just poor, pathetic humor which gave insight into this man’s underlying beliefs and character. Maybe he doesn’t realize that what he wrote was insensitive. Maybe giving a little more time to people who are less “socially conformed” than he is might help open up his eyes.
It’s a reminder that we all can become the instigators of cruelty with our humor. Fortunately, we are able to practice being aware of what we say, and
try to be succeed at being more compassionate. We can try to be succeed at being more open to someone else’s mode of dress, habits, religion, or what they like to do on a Saturday night.
I haven’t promoted giving time for the past year and a half as something we “should” do. I promote it because so many of the injustices and cruelty in the world originate not in someone else and someplace else, but in ourselves and in our place. And they give rise to large, unsolvable societal problems. It is my belief that giving time is a pathway which will open our eyes to compassion, kindness, and understanding through intent and connection, to stop the hatred before it starts.
I’d like to think that this man will read my post today, and that will open a door to dialog between us so we could talk about my many friends, co-workers, and children I know who fall into the category of people he so derided last night. Perhaps I could then talk to him about the members of his own religion who have been victimized. Or, I might try to explain that many people at his own company might offended by his post. Possibly I could connect his actions to his insensitivity and we could all walk away a little better.
In the meantime, instead of wasting away on a couch in front of a football game this Sunday, I’ll see if my kids want to play a game of Settlers of Catan together.
All the while reflecting on how I can teach them compassion and understanding while practicing it better myself.
Yesterday’s gift of time … Picked up many mangled shards of aluminum near my house … Picked up a renewed desire to be more aware of and celebrate the differences in all people from all walks of life; to teach my children compassion as best I can; and to spend less time in judgement of others.