In my neighborhood community, I have spoken up on matters of common sense, trying to enlist other people’s common sense. But it backfired. People took (unexpected/unfounded) sides. Words were twisted. Meanness transpired.
I still stand by my beliefs, but many moons later, I took a different approach on new matters. I don’t hide behind other’s opinions. Which are ever shifting. I just own my own and dig deeper.
In the age of information abundance, of opinions and emotional persuasion, confusion seems to be our biggest enemy. We don’t know what to believe, whom to believe. Whom to follow. In the name of progress we discard good old wisdom.
For example, traffic law.
We pick and choose what laws apply to us, where and how we park, the speed we drive etc.
After a dog was run over because it was laying in the sun right after an illegally parked car, I decided to ask politely, every driver who parks on the narrow street, by the uninterrupted median strip, on the 50m between the two most traveled intersections, not to park there anymore.
It worked instantly. The cars cleared.
So nice to drive home after dark and not swerve out of the blocked lane to avoid collision.
I just reminded the neighbors about the law, and appealed to their good will to go above and beyond the law for safe & peaceful cohabitation.
To my surprise, people saw reason.
Last night, coming home from a weekend away, two cars were parked again on the trouble lane. I left a note with my number, asking respectfully to not park in that lane, by the uninterrupted median strip.
The driver called me back asking what the problem was. And the more polite arguments I offered, the more stubborn he got, saying he can’t understand what the problem was, asking me for solutions, for his parking dilemma. I stayed my ground but I realized this is a long haul. I even offered him solutions but in hindsight, I could have offered less justifications.
Alas, our biggest stumbling block is the expectation that people should know this or that already.
We kept going in circles, with him not understanding what the problem was, and brushing off my supportive arguments, saying that accidents happen (collisions or dogs being run over). If only we wouldn’t just shrug our shoulders and keep on doing what’s convenient but illegal and unsafe.
So I simply thanked him for his understanding and the conversation ended. He moved his car.
The traffic law states it’s illegal to park there. Why do I have to justify abiding the law that protects us and others from accidents?
We want our way. No matter what. Adults can be such stubborn kids. We can’t accept a shortcoming, or a gentle reminder.
But if we are not faithful or honest in the small matters, we can’t be trusted with the bigger things.
We have to make conscious decisions about our integrity. Where do we draw the line? Erasing it here and there, making concessions, we may find that our moral line is not visible anymore. And the more people do that, the faster the society as we know it would collapse.