If we are all right, then is anyone truly wrong?
Let’s talk about being right…
I’m probably going to shake a few cages here, so here’s a trigger warning. Not for any kind of abusive context, but that I might ruffle some feathers while putting things in perspective.
I recently read a post in one of the community groups that I am part of, that sparked a thought for me… The post relayed a scene at a traffic light where a person had gotten out of their car to hand something to two other people. While the first person was getting back into their car, the traffic light changed green, and a different driver hooted at the first person.
And the comments unraveled… “…absolutely disgusting!” “Do people not have any decency!” “It would only take two minutes” “Patients is a virtue” and so on…
I purposely left out any specific age, gender, race, or status references as I am wanting to paint a neutral tone to this story… I wonder while reading, what blanks did you fill in for yourself?
Was the person getting out of their car a white man, a black man, an old woman, a young woman, a rich person, a poor person?
The something that was being handed could it have been money, food, an umbrella, a traffic fine, a love letter?
The two people who received something could they have been a mother and her child, two beggars, two street vendors, two police officers, two women?
The person who hooted could they be a man driving a taxi, a woman driving a white BMW, a man in a banged-up jalopy, a woman driving with her music loud?
This scene really brought up a whole different perspective for me since we don’t have the full story, and so we can’t cast judgement or decide who is right or wrong between any of these individuals…
Effectively this story has five cast members:
- The Observer – the person who posted the post watching this whole story unfold.
- The Giver – the man who jumped out of his car to hand a poor lady on the street a bag of McDonalds for her and her child.
- The Taker – the poor lady and her child on the street begging.
- The Hooter – the entitled woman in her white BMW hooting at the man giving food to the poor.
- The Traffic Light – the inanimate object that rudely decided to change causing all of this upset.
While from the perspective of The Observer, The Giver was in their right, and The Hooter should have been more patient. But there are so many perspectives to this story…
Perhaps The Hooter was on their way to visit their dying mother in hospital. Maybe they were going to fetch their sick child from school. What if they had driven during their lunch break to drop food off at a shelter and were now rushing back to work. Perhaps The Hooter was impatient and seeing someone else do something she couldn’t quite bring herself to do, triggered her and so she lashed out on her hooter.
The thing is, we can’t really judge this situation from this perspective because we don’t have all the details and intel on the perspective of the woman in her white BMW who hooted at a man giving McDonalds to a mother and her child standing on the street corner.
The Giver was handing McDonalds to The Taker, but we have no idea whether The Taker even wants McDonalds. We have assumed that because they are standing on the street corner and seemingly begging that it must be because they are hungry. We furthermore expect The Taker to receive the food with gratitude, but where is the humanity in that? What if they desperately need medical attention, or perhaps they really wanted toiletries? What if their rent is overdue and money to pay for another month would have been more helpful? What if it’s their choice to indulge in alcohol to numb away the fact that they were severely abused and they have no other way of knowing how to cope with the pain of their experiences, but being drunk brings them some relief from the reality that they face? What if all they want is for another human being to acknowledge them, look them in the eye, and tell them that they are loved? Imposing what we believe to be right on another person, isn’t kind, compassionate, and respectful… And then there are loads of posts on social media about people complaining after giving someone food and that person threw the food away… we go so far as to tell other people what they must feel as well!
We cannot choose on behalf of other people. We cannot decide what is more right and more wrong. We cannot condemn some behaviour, and praise others. Because every perspective is valid.
Let’s look at The Giver… what’s his motive? Perhaps he is doing this seemingly good deed to get social media fame? What if this is to feed his ego and help him feel good about his contribution to society? What if he is so thwart with his own inability to receive that he has to keep giving in order to deflect from the fact that he needs to be nourished with love himself?
And The Observer… well she is simply casting her perspective to this whole situation. Perhaps she felt inspired, perhaps she felt ashamed, perhaps she felt guilty. Perhaps, by her posting this on social media, she is seeking attention and acknowledgement herself? Perhaps she feels disenfranchised and helpless by our crumbling economy driving the overwhelming influx of desperate people needing to survive, all while feeling guilty for having a bit more than this poor person on the street. We will never really know…
The Traffic Light… well, let’s start with the surprise that it was even working at that time.
My question is what if it were a taxi dropping off a passenger, someone who was working at the McDonalds, earning enough to feed their family of 6… If the woman had hooted then, we likely wouldn’t have a post. And then why not, how dare she be so impatient to the poor person earning minimum wage only trying to get to work on time so that they don’t lose their job…
What if it was a man in a banged-up jalopy who hooted at the guy getting out of his car, would we have then had this post? And why not, because he then also doesn’t have the virtue of patients, and surely what’s good for the goose is good for the gander?
What if the guy getting out of his car was handing drugs over to a dealer on the street corner, would the woman have even hooted? I mean why not, what’s the difference between breaking the law by being out of your car at a robot, and dealing drugs… why is one breaking of the law more justified than the other?
What if there was a cop giving the man who was getting out of his car a fine, because what he did is against the law… would we then be discussing this?
My challenge with this whole scene is that people have decided who is right and who is wrong without having all the information… we are playing judge, juror, and persecutor with ourselves and with others all the time.
We are expected to take in the name of gratitude and give in the name of nobility, yet giving and taking both come with their own nuances, neither better than the other…
I am not wanting to rile up debate, what I am wanting is to ignite true kindness, compassion, and respect for all of humanity. We are all deserving of that. We are all entitled to food, water, shelter in order to ensure our physical survival, and in my opinion, we are all entitled to love, care, kindness, compassion, and respect to ensure our emotional survival.
What we are doing is clearly not working. It is clearly not working because we are not seeing any change. We have got to do something different.
I get it, we feel helpless, I feel helpless. I feel as helpless as that person on the street. I get that the small acts of kindness are an attempt to gain some sort of control over a helpless situation, and I believe with every fiber of my being that every little bit counts. And then we must also consider every little bit… for some that little bit is handing out food at a traffic light, for others it’s adopting a dog, for me it’s sharing inspiring pieces in the hopes of waking people up to their own power and brilliance.
We must expand our belief that this will work, that our small contribution, in whatever way is making a difference… humanity at large is good, and there are only small pockets of true evil. We must steer away from our fickle perspective of making one better than the other… It ALL counts. It has to, because then otherwise what is the point?