Foreword: I don't think this applies to everyone. I still see plenty of nice people in the store, the ones who say hi or smile at my little ones. The ones who move their carts out of the way or help you if you drop something. I also encounter people once in a while who let me pull out in a line of traffic or open a door for me. I know there are still generally nice people out there, but I do think some people could use a lesson in manners and common decency.
I remember once being on the trolley with my two young children. I had my children in a seat with me and the stroller in the seat behind us. The trolley wasn't crowded at that point, but it became quite crowded towards the end of our trip. A group of boys got on the trolley and sat down next to the stroller and us. I glanced over at them, just looking at who was sitting down. I may have asked them if the stroller was in their way or if we could move over more, but I never had a chance to say a word.
One of the boys became defensive and automatically assumed I thought he was going to mess with the stroller. I had never said a word, just glanced up at who was sitting down next to me, my children and our stroller. He started saying horrible things about me in front of my young children, who became understandably confused and upset. He continued doing this for the last five minutes we were on the trolley. One of his friends finally leaned over to me and tried to say something nice, but I was so appalled and annoyed by that point that I just jumped up and grabbed our belongings and my children and ran off of the trolley. No one sitting next to us said a word.
The mama in me wanted to give all of those boys a good lecture about being considerate of other people and not jumping to conclusions--just because someone looks at you. The mama in me wanted to stick up for myself and tell them not to speak that way in front of children. Yet, the mama in me was also scared for herself and her children. This group of boys was quite loud and obnoxious, pushing each other around and carrying on. The mama in me was scared that if she said too much, who knows what they would have done. No one on the trolley intervened or said a word to them as they hurled insults and swear words at me.
Maybe it was my fault? Maybe I should have tried to be incredibly nice and offered to move myself, my children, and my stroller somewhere else, so they could have our seats? Maybe being nice would have shown them how ridiculous and awful they were being--for no reason? I didn't say anything or move for a few moments. I admit, I was too scared to do anything and make the situation worse.
I did what I could. I hugged my babies closer to me and ran off that trolley at the first stop I could. I still think maybe I should have said something, but surrounded by a group of boys on a crowded trolley was not where I wanted to pick a battle.
These boys were probably in their mid-teens to early twenties. I wondered if their moms knew how they talked to women. I wondered if their moms knew how they talked in front of young children. Would they act that way in front of their own mother? Were they just trying to be "cool"?
I don't know where the problem lies with some of the population. Do we blame the parents? Did they not teach their children to be respectable, considerate adults? Do these children grow up with abuse and neglect, basically being taught by their friends how to act? Or do these children just grow up and decide for themselves that being "cool" is better than being nice?
I can only hope and pray that my children grow up and learn the correct way to treat others. I can only hope and pray that certain people, like the boys on the trolley, grow some type of understanding someday and can learn to be considerate of others. Maybe there is hope, as one of the boys did try to say something nice to me--but he really wouldn't say anything directly to the boy harassing me. He tried changing the subject and moving off of it, but the "leader" (I suppose) wouldn't let it go.
Maybe someday people will be braver or care enough to intervene when someone is harassing a woman with young children. Perhaps there are too many stories of shootings and people who do stand up for what's right being hurt, because they tried to help. (I admit, that is what stopped me from really saying too much. I was scared, not for me but for my children.) Even in those stories, it shows that some people will continue to do the right thing.
Am I simply a dreamer? Hoping, praying, and dreaming that these things will end someday?
What happened on that trolley is merely a very small part of the bigger picture I am talking about. I was not physically assaulted and neither were my children. Maybe if it had gone that far, someone would have intervened. I am more so talking about manners, common decency, and being considerate in general. Too many people treat others like they are garbage, like they are nothing. They act like they think they are superior and have the right to belittle or hurt other people--emotionally or physically. Everyday you hear horrible stories of rape, abuse, neglect, murder, or assault. Truly, some people barely respect the Earth we live on and can be considerate of that, let alone other people. Everyday, someone witnesses something and does nothing to stop it. Everyday, someone makes a choice that forever alters the life of someone else (and their family). When will it end? Will it stop? Can we shape the future generation to be better people? Make them more understanding, caring, and considerate? I hope, pray, and dream that we can.
Maybe in this post I have come to the realization that I could have done things differently in that situation. Maybe being overly nice and considerate towards them would have made the insults stop and made them rethink their actions. Maybe I could have been more considerate of them. After all, I once read that you cannot change how others act, but you can change how you act. I don't think this would work in all situations, as I think sometimes nothing you say or do will ever change the way someone else acts or thinks.
I leave you with my final thoughts on this, which could only be best explained by Ozzy.
Gazing through the window at the world outside
Wondering will mother earth survive
Hoping that mankind will stop abusing her, sometime
After all there's only just the two of us
And here we are still fighting for our lives
Watching all of history repeat itself, time after time
I'm just a dreamer, I dream my life away
I'm just a dreamer, who dreams of better days
I watch the sun go down like everyone of us
I'm hoping that the dawn will bring a sign
A better place for those who will come after us this time
I'm just a dreamer, I dream my life away, oh yeah
I'm just a dreamer, who dreams of better days
Your higher power may be God or Jesus Christ
It doesn't really matter much to me
Without each others help there aint no hope for us
I'm living in a dream, a fantasy
Oh yeah, yeah, yeah
If only we could all just find serenity
It would be nice if we could live as one
When will all this anger, hate and bigotry be gone?
I'm just a dreamer, I dream my life away, today
I'm just a dreamer, who dreams of better days, ok
I'm just a dreamer, whos searching for the way, today
I'm just a dreamer, dreaming my life away
Oh yeah, yeah, yeah