Thursday, February 11, 2010

Philosopher's corner: obligation to kindness

A man in an old red car is legally parked on the street side of a curb. The other side of the curb is the parking lot to our Haggen’s grocery storey. An extremely long tractor-trailer pulled into the parking lot, attempting to deliver its products to the store. Unable to make the narrow turn to exit, the trailer and semi-tractor were stuck in the lot, parallel to the red car.

The truck driver and two customers worked together to permit room for their vehicles to leave. However, the trailer still risked hitting the red car in an attempt to exit. The driver even got out of his cab to take in the amount of space available to him, then returned to try again. Although masterfully inching it this way and that, the tractor-trailer could not back out of the lot with the red car in its way.

The driver of the red car sat in it with a big grin. A customer walked over to him and spoke for a moment, then left. The driver remained in his car, refusing to move it out of the way. Parked legally on the street, he had a right to be there. Meanwhile, the truck driver who has made every attempt possible to cooperate with customers and get his rig out of the way, is still stuck.

The driver of the red car, full of himself in his own mental power trip, beamed in delight.

At what point does a person’s rights or entitlement supercede the right of another person to be treated with kindness and understanding? At what point does one’s rights or entitlement absolve them from any responsibility of kindness towards another human being? The answer to both questions is NEVER!

The founders of our great nation created a government that recognized the equality of all human beings. It did not say all rights were equal, however. There is a natural structure, a priority of lesser and greater rights, and lesser and greater wrongs.

As a member of society, we have an inherent obligation of kindness and civility towards one another. These are the fabric of society’s tapestry and, without them, it unravels. Important lessons for our children and students to learn now as they are formed to be responsible citizens of good character.

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