Sometimes people just blow my mind. Sometimes it's just so incredible to read a story about someone, who for no other reason than "it was the right thing to do", does something absolutely selfless and wonderful for another human being. I love stories like that. This isn't one of them.
So I'm scrolling along my FB feed and come across a story posted to a community group I subscribe to. I don't know the person who posted the story or even any of the people who commented and thanked her for her heroic act of justice and bravery, but I read the story all the same. Here's the gist of the story:
A woman and her child were at the park on a beautiful spring day, along with several other mothers and their children. A man pulls into the park and gets out and lets his unleashed dog out. The dog runs straight over to the area the children are playing and poops on the ground. The man doesn't make any motion giving the appearance he's going to clean up after his dog so one of the mothers asks him "are you going to clean that up?" The man replies "I hadn't really thought about, no". The man and his dog begin to walk away and the mother wishes him a nice day. As soon as the man and his dog are far enough down the path, the mother retrieves a plastic shopping bag, scoops up after the dog and... walks over to the man's car and smears the dog poo all over his door handle. In front of all the other mothers and their children. She is cheered on as the hero of the playground.
Now, I know some people will read that and think "right on!" I am not one of those people.
Now I read things like this, and think to myself "and this kids, is why our society and our culture is full of creeps". Not only do I not think of this woman as the hero of the playground, I see her as a vindictive, nasty, bitter woman who thought nothing of setting a horrible example in front of her own child, but all the other children on the play ground watching what she was doing.
Of course the man should have cleaned up after his dog, but that's why most communities have fines for such a thing, and he should have definitely been fined if he couldn't bother to clean up after his dog. But for this woman to repay rudeness and inconsideration with a malicious smear of poop on the man's car? No. Just no.
The right thing to do would have been to pick it up, and place it in a trash can. Therefore setting a good, responsible and respectable example for the other children (and their parents) watching this exchange between the mom and the man. And then, use the exchange as a wonderful teaching moment for her own child and explain that just because sometimes people are rude and thoughtless, doesn't mean we can't raise the bar and be kind and considerate. She could have even then left a note on the man's car "Hi, your dog pooped in the play ground but I cleaned it up and threw it away. Please, in the future, take care to clean up after your dog".
Instead, the gem she taught her own kid and others was "when someone is a thoughtless, irresponsible person and ticks you off, be an even bigger creep back, and you win!" Sigh.
Yep, this is just one of the things so wrong in our society. It's so easy to take the mean, malicious route. But it takes a bit more thought, restraint and courtesy to take the high road. There's an old saying "you catch more flies with honey than you do vinegar" and it means, kindness goes much further than bitterness.
It's too bad kindness wasn't contagious.