How To Respond To “Those People”

I don’t tend to write “response” type posts, but this one…this one really gets me. So today, I’m responding to an issue that happened at a local Easter egg hunt this past weekend.

Apparently, the event was over crowded, chaotic, and there was some bad behavior by parents and children alike. But, that is not what I take issue with. When the company who sponsored the event came out with a statement of apology on Facebook, people went nuts ripping the “other” parents to shreds (clearly they felt their own behavior warranted them earning their angle wings):

“people expect too much from a free event.”

“Unfortunately rudeness, greediness, and the “all about me” attitudes have become a standard in our world.”

“How terribly sad that greed of such self-minded “ADULTS” has ruined a generous event such as this traditional egg hunt, intended to be family-friendly and bring great joy to CHILDREN!”

“Don’t let ignorant parents ruin this.”

And so on and so forth.

Let me tell you that I am not defending aggressive, rude, and selfish behavior. However, I’m so, so tired of people standing around, judging the bad behavior of others.

If we think that people’s desperate behavior is literally over some plastic eggs and crappy candy then we are seriously out of touch. Look around you, my friends. We live in a world where even “average” people are struggling: Struggling to make ends meet; struggling to find work; struggling to process all the violence in the world; struggling to navigate the murky waters of broken lives and families. STRUGGLING.

As we encounter bad behavior from fellow humans, we can respond one of two ways: with judgement and a sneer, or with empathy and kindness. Life is hard, and odds are, it’s harder than you can possibly imagine for that person in front of you who just did something that you felt was “rude.” And the empathy aside, let’s not forget to mention the reason why we all get so hot and bothered by other people’s behavior; it’s not that we are literally upset by immorality, but instead, we are indignant because we feel WE have been wronged. “How dare THEY!? I deserve better!”

My friends, you may not deserve to have the proverbial Easter eggs snatched from the basket of your life, but neither does your fellow man deserve your indignant judgement and higher-than-thou eyebrow wagging.

I’m particularly struck by that first comment I have quoted: “people expect too much from a free event.”

Hmm. Maybe.

But we also expect a whole heck of a lot from others. We expect others to treat us with the utmost warmth, affection, and respect. We expect preferential and deferential treatment.  We expect to be served. We expect service with a smile.

Sometimes, when I’m out running errands, I make it a habit to be the first person to smile at anyone I encounter, whether it be a cashier, a random person I cross in the parking lot, or the person who bumps their cart into mine while in a busy shopping isle. I can’t take credit for this idea, I read it somewhere years ago. But what I can tell you is that this little exercise is magical, for two reasons.

  1. Most people not only smile back, but they will then respond with a kind comment. I’ve had some of the most lovely conversations simply because I smiled.
  2. This mindset, absolutely transforms my outlook. Instead of waiting for the world to serve me and becoming a negative nelly when I don’t get my due, I wait on no one to dish up the kindness; I initiate the good behavior and, lo-and-behold, most people follow suit. I will say I had one sour puss of an old geezer get down right hostile with me in a check out line once. But what can ya do. He was absolutely the exception 😉 .

So the next time you are in a situation where people aren’t behaving how you’d expect, maybe pause for a moment and consider that they are human too, with human struggles and a story that you don’t know, and remember that you too have the choice to do the right thing. Kindness is not dependent on other people’s behavior; it’s simply dependent on, you.

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