Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Being Kind

"This is the final test of a gentleman: his respect for those who can be of no possible service to him."
-William Lyon Phelps

Spouse and I have just arrived back from a drive to Maine to see our friends, one of whom has had serious surgery; we thought we would pay a visit to the patient.
Their whole family had gathered for this occasion and they were kind enough to put us up for the night despite a shortage of room.
We needed to step carefully: there were children everywhere. During that one evening we watched a sword fight take place between two of the children in a living room stacked to the ceiling with toys of every type.
The battle ended, unsurprisingly, with a sword being smashed beyond repair. The small owner, whose home we were in and to whom the sword belonged, was very sad indeed when he picked up the two pieces and noted that they could not be put back together.
One might reasonably think that with so many toys in his possession he would be apt to be spoiled or selfish.
Not at all. The child, who is just six, looked forlornly at the broken item and said quietly but honourably,
"I was good to that toy."
We were pleasantly surprised to see for ourselves that he was indeed careful with everything he owned; any of his toys that had been broken- and in fact broken by other children- were bound with duct tape and still being played with on a regular basis.
Personal property aside for a moment, I wonder how people can be so careless with another's.
Since Spouse and I moved to our current part of the country, our car has been smacked and dented more times than in the previous ten years that Spouse owned it. We might go to do a quick grocery and return to find somebody did not care what they hit when they swung open their car door. It symbolises an utter lack of respect that is new to our lives.
I lament when we check out films from our local library that are scratched or marked in any way, or books that are scribbled upon. One does not have to be extraordinary to be thoughtful when handling discs or library books; we treat everything as we would our own and cannot imagine how people can be rough or disrespectful towards things which do not belong to them.
The sad truth is that people do need to train themselves to be aware and careful. It sounds horrendous to contemplate but there it is: respect does not always come naturally and it needs to be worked at.

That child we met who respects his own possessions will certainly grow up to have consideration for the property of others and he hopefully will 'be good' to everything he finds.

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