Last night I was reading an article by Steve Bivans on freedom and it reminded me of something that happened a few years ago. My neighbor at the time was a lady who had cancer. One of the challenges she faced was falling asleep, and the less she slept the weaker she got.
She was my next-door neighbor, and I didn’t know her that well, but I’d asked her if there was anything I could do to help, and she’d told me, “You’re already helping. You’re always quiet… unlike our other neighbors.” The neighbors did make a lot of noise during the day and sometimes even at night: slamming doors, playing loud music, shouting, …
So when the next day, a car stopped in the complex, right by our building, and started honking, I thought of my neighbor. The driver had probably come to pick someone up, and, instead of calling, they were signaling them that they were here by honking their horn.
I stepped outside and asked the driver to please stop honking because there was a sick person trying to sleep. I even offered my phone for him to call the person he was waiting for.
His response? “I have the right to honk, so I’m honking.” And he continued honking.
I didn’t want to argue with the jackass, but I was thinking he also had the right to bang his head against the wall, go jump off a bridge, … He didn’t have to be an ass just because he had the right to be one. A little consideration on his part could have helped my sick neighbor that day.
Having a right to do something doesn’t mean not having a choice to do the right thing and it certainly doesn’t mean being free to cause harm to others.
Is it possible to teach someone to be considerate and kind after they’ve lived decades being inconsiderate and unkind? Isn’t this something they should have learned when they were a child? Is it a lesson they should learn the hard way?