Opinion: Teaching moments


The cliché goes, “Your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency on my part.” Like most aphorisms, it is true on its face with little consideration. We get cut off on the highway as someone realizes too late that their exit is upon them. We get displaced from our chosen airplane or event seat because a late arriver wants to sit next to a relative or friend. We miss the start of the movie because the customer ahead of us in line seems to have overlooked that their wallet would be needed to complete the transaction. And we come to a dead stop in the roundabout as the driver in front has to stop and consider which way they intend to go – in fact, some good fellow citizens stop and back up to get to their chosen venue, apparently not aware of the no beginning and no-end nature of these traffic circles.

Still, we live in a civil society. And many of us take great steps to show deference and respect for our fellow humans. We are unlikely to wear profane graphic T-shirts in public and we still can be found holding the door for those, regardless of gender, entering behind us. Does our attempt to do unto others inadvertently lead to a dependence by them upon our good nature? Do they become intentionally atrophied at showing up on time, expecting dispensation because they truly have come to believe in their own superiority? One might imagine so, given the abject look of horror to possess the countenance of the poor planner when we don’t freely offer to share our wine with them at the concert. It seems they forgot to bring any, again. When, if ever, is it right to push back, to teach a lesson, or to hold our ground?