My oldest is driving now, which I still can’t figure out, because she was just four years old, like, yesterday!
Recently she went to the grocery store for us (well, that’s a perk, I suppose). She did her shopping, went back to the car, and while waiting for traffic to clear so she could pull out of her parking space, she noticed a shopping cart rolling down the aisle, headed right for a parked Porsche!
Being the good citizen that she is (and lover of cool cars), she hopped out of our Dart and ran after the cart to stop it — just in the nick of time. Phew! The fancy car was safe! She put the cart away properly and onward she went.
And I’m proud of her. I really am! But I couldn’t help but wonder, would she have had the same instinct if it were a minivan or an ‘85 Yugo in dent’s way? Personally, I believe she would, but she’s unique — and our overall culture doesn’t seem to operate that way. I’ve noticed in our society that our natural inclination is to protect expensive things, even if they’re not ours, and even if the owner could comfortably afford the repair. But we place a different judgement on less nice things, or old clunkers. What seems to happen too often is we judge the value of the person who own these less nice things.
I’m not sure what my point is here; maybe it’s just tapping into one of my biggest pet peeves: shopping carts in parking lots. Or maybe it’s a metaphor for how much I wish there were more people looking out for everyone like my daughter did for this Porsche owner.
In leadership, it’s easy to lead those who agree with you, but the real test of leadership is how you lead those that disagree with you. Perhaps that’s my point. It’s easy to help those you agree with, or seem like you, or have the things or life you desire, but the real test of humanity is how we respond to, step up for and protect those we feel judgmental about.
What a simple act of kindness to stop a car ding for a grocery shopping stranger. I know it wasn’t the Porsche’s price tag that prompted my daughter’s civic duty, it was her gut instinct to reduce a little suffering in the world — even if the person will never know how much better their day is because of that random, invisible act of kindness. Can you imagine a world where all people, at every stage of the socio-economic spectrum, receive our honor and protection? Where we each have each other’s back? Where even those we judge negatively, we are willing to help, protect, or offer an invisible random act of kindness, not for the recognition, but for the sheer goodness of it?