round and round...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


It’s a word that drives me nuts. Complacency. I despise it. To me, it’s the worst trait we have developed as Americans. As citizens of the world, actually. Complacency makes us decide that the path of least resistance is the best course. Complacency makes it easy for us to do nothing. We don’t speak up. We don’t react well. Proactivity? What’s that?

I am tired of complacency. I want people to speak up. I want people to stop thinking they can’t change anything, so it’s not worth it to even try. As a kid, if I was doing something wrong I expected adults to reprimand me. For the record, as a kid, the worst thing I did was chase a neighbor boy down the street and occasionally cut through someone’s yard when I shouldn’t have. Those minor infractions got me a scolding by adult neighbors. I deserved it. That was everyone’s neighborhood and everyone had a stake in it. You can’t have kids running through peoples’ yards and trampling flower beds. They were right to speak up.

So why is it so rare for people to speak up nowadays? Is it our general fear of a lawsuit? We are an insanely litigious society that sues for the most ridiculous things. I can understand someone not wanting to get involved in a situation because they don’t want to deal with the ramifications of engagement. But I still think that’s bogus logic. Is it our media-fueled fear of violence that makes us hang back? Whatever it is, it’s absurd.

People don’t speak up when they see something wrong happening. This past weekend Matthew was waiting outside the grocery with Duke while I picked up a few things. A kid of about 7 or 8 walked over and shoved Duke. He just walked up to the dog, grabbed his hips, and shoved him. Matthew saw this kid’s father standing about 20’ away talking on his cell phone. He grabbed the kid by the arm and marched him over to his dad. The guy wouldn’t acknowledge that Matthew was standing there. He had to tell the guy to get off the phone and pay attention. If a stranger had my kid by the arm you better believe I’d be paying attention! He told the guy he needed to explain to his son that it is dangerous to antagonize a dog, especially one you don’t know, and that if his kid had done that to another dog he very well could have been bitten. They guy acted like he didn’t speak English (he was speaking English a little later when I saw him) and turned his back on Matthew to continue his phone call. Matthew told the kid’s sister, who was also there being ignored by their father, that her brother could get seriously hurt and that she should keep an eye on him until their dad got off the phone.

Later that same day we were in the city and a handicapped access bus was parked on 8th Ave. The doors opened and trash started flying out onto the street. The doors closed. Not being one to see something wrong happen and say nothing about it, I marched up to the bus doors and knocked with a big smile on my face. “Why did you do that?” Bus driver responded, “What are you talking about?” I explained that I saw him toss trash onto the street and I was wondering when he was going to pick it up. He said he didn’t do it, even though he was holding the empty plastic bag he had just dumped out. An exchange followed, in which I told him that no one is so entitled that they can litter… I said I live here, too, and I don’t want to have trashy streets… he said if I was so concerned that I should pick it up... he called me a bitch and told me to fuck off… I said my husband had written down his plate # and that we were going to call and complain, just as soon as I picked up his mess because even though it was his responsibility it would be wrong for me to just leave his garbage on the street. He drove away screaming obscenities at me and flipping me off. I’m calling today to make a formal complaint. I picked up all his trash because even though I didn’t put it there, this city and this planet are everyone’s responsibility. There happened to be an empty vodka bottle in the same pile. I don’t know if it was his or not, but you can be damn sure I’ll mention that I picked it up when I talk to the company. If I don’t get an acceptably concerned response from the company, I’ll call the police. Littering is illegal. I have the license plate #.

People cannot keep watching others do things that are wrong and say nothing about it. Get involved. Nothing will change if we all stand idly by. What’s that saying? Democracy fails when good men do nothing. Well, society in general suffers when we all get complacent. The problems are big, but that doesn’t mean that individual actions have no effect. Take the chance. Even if it makes no difference at least you’ll know you tried.

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7 What people are saying:

Blogger Monogram Queen rambles...

You are very right Melissa. I'm so proud of you!

7/01/2008 10:39:00 AM

Blogger Melissa rambles...

Thanks, Patti. I don't mean to sound like a blowhard, it's just frustrating when the cycle is maintained instead of broken, you know?

7/01/2008 11:17:00 AM

Anonymous The Rover rambles...

This is why I will never cross you.

7/01/2008 06:51:00 PM

Blogger Sandra rambles...

Gah the kid pushing Duke!! I would have flipped! And sadly if Duke had given him a well-deserved nip, YOU'D have been the ones in trouble. Grrrr.

7/01/2008 11:56:00 PM

Blogger Claire Joy rambles...

You are SOOOO my hero. (ine)

7/02/2008 09:52:00 AM

Blogger Lynilu rambles...

Both incidents are deplorable.

I hate that people are so uncaring about our environment as to simply throw things around like that. The sense of entitlement in our country is rampant. (*You* need to pick up for *me*.) I just don't get how people can not care about what surrounds them. Any time there is trash or anything unsightly around me, it gets in the way of nature's beauty. Sometimes I think people have stopped seeing beauty.

And the shoving of Duke!!! I'm aghast (1) that the child was so mean, and (2) that the father was so able to ignore it!! Again, it seems that people feel it is someone else's jobe to rais a child, even his/her own!!

I suspect that bus driver had parents like that little boy. Good for you for being responsible.

7/02/2008 10:07:00 PM

Blogger Retro Girl rambles...

I am so with you on all of this!

People need to take some responsibility for themselves in this world! Grrr.

I would've done the same thing as Matthew in that situation. Grrr That cell-phone-slacker dad pisses me off! Too many parents ignore their kids and let them do as they please with no regard to how they behave or for their safety! It's appalling!

I'm so proud of you!!! Littering makes me angry too. It's our world, too! Who wants to live in a landfill, trash dump? I hope that jackass loses his job!

We all need to step up, speak up...and people in general need to be more aware, take responsibility and realize everything they say and do affects others in some way. They need to THINK about their actions or lack thereof....

7/09/2008 06:03:00 PM


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