Funny — Or Cruel?

One day the Daily Prompt asked what tricks someone could play on me that would truly scare me. It shouldn’t be hard, as I’m a timid sort and easily frightened. (My reason for avoiding heart-stopping suspense and horror stories.) But what pleasure would it give someone to know they’d terrified me? Is that not cruelty?

My mind goes back to something my husband’s distant cousin, another Bob, told his teenage son one day. “If you’re going to pull a prank, use your brain. Don’t do something stupid that you’re going to be embarrassed about later. Do something you’ll be proud of. Something unique or spectacular.”

He explained that when he was in his teens a group of guys had gotten together one night and dismantled some piece of equipment — or an old car? — and carried it piece by piece up to the top of a prominent building. There they’d reassembled it so that in the morning everyone passing by could see this bizarre object sitting on the roof. Now that was a novelty people chuckled over for a good while after.

My husband remembers that when he was a boy an old wagon appeared, through similar circumstances, on top to the town hall in Craik, SK one Nov 1st. Seeing it there gave local folks a chuckle, but no one was terrified or injured.

Though I’m not a fan of tricks, I believe Cousin Bob had a point. Some young folks think it’s fun to destroy things. Why? Does some anger in their own heart seek an outlet in being nasty to others? Often they choose the most helpless as their victims, someone who can’t retaliate. They don’t want to risk someone bigger and stronger catching up with them and punishing them for their misdeeds.

One young man talked of how his uncle would tickle him and his brothers when they were boys — and keep on until they were in tears and screaming. Uncle called it fun; his nephews called it a kind of torture and avoided him whenever they could. “Funny” that humiliates or hurts someone or some creature is a very perverted humor.

“Teach The Children Well”

Since I’m going to be away from home today, I’ll re-post two short items from my DropBox. Hope you enjoy them.

Stubbornness Doesn’t Pay

Back in 1928 a family had taken a holiday on the Hebrides island of Lewis, in the north of Scotland. Dr MacLeod had brought his family back to the village where he’d been born and they’d visited around amongst various of his friends and relatives. As they were motoring home the children in the back seat got into a discussion that became rather heated. Son Iain, who felt himself in danger of losing the argument got rather huffy about it. After all, he was right! “If no one is going to agree with me, “ he declared, “I’ll get out right now and walk home.”

His words were designed to make the others give in; of course he had no intention of carrying them out. But his father decided the boy needed a lesson, so he stopped the car and silently opened the door. Iain had no choice but to get out and walk back to their village. It was a long, long walk and well after midnight when he finally arrived at his home, exhausted and thoroughly chilled. He found the door unlocked for him, but everyone was in bed and all the lights were out. Quietly he crept into his own bed, scolding himself for his foolish words and attitude.

His parents never mentioned the incident again, but Iain had plenty of time to consider on his long walk and decided that from now on he’d be stubborn only in issues of serious right and wrong, he’d give more consideration to the other fellow’s point of view and recognize that he could be wrong. This lesson stood him in good stead when in later years he became a politician.

(It wouldn’t be safe in the world we have today, but back then it must have been.)

Another Long Walk

A single mother in our community dealt with her son’s problem in a somewhat similar way when he was put off the school bus because he wasn’t “able” to sit still. The driver said he wouldn’t be allowed on the bus again until he could.

She could have made excuses for the boy, she could have said, “He’s ADHD and cant help himself.” But she rather told him the next morning, “Get your coat on; we’re walking to school.”

The two of them set off early and it took them several hours cover the miles to school. That night she was there again. “Are you ready to walk home or are you going to sit down and behave yourself on the bus?”

Yes, he was ready to apologize to the driver and sit still from now on.

This mom felt her son needed to learn respect for authority; when you’re told to sit down and behave yourself there are no excuses. She knew of another lad in that same school, knew that when he defied the authority of his teacher his father, a cop, took his part against the teacher and threatened her with legal action when she tried to rein in his son. That young man, as an adult, had issues with obeying authority and landed up in jail. She didn’t want that to happen to her son.

Ready to Face It?

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is READY. A very useful word that should give oodles of responses.

“Are You Ready to be Well?

The Gospels relate an incident where Jesus met a man who’d been a cripple for many years. Jesus stopped in passing and asked the man, “Wilt thou be made whole?” In other words, “Do you want to be well?”

The man was lying by a miraculous pool where an angel troubled the waters occasionally and the first one in after the turbulence was cured of their affliction. Many folks had gathered there, hoping for a cure, and this particular fellow had been lying there for years. He explained to Jesus how he could never get to the pool fast enough when the water started roiling. Someone else always beat him to the cure.

Jesus question seems very odd, but I see a number of undertones here:
“Are you ready to be well? To face the real world?”
Are you ready to leave behind all these friends you’ve been commiserating with for so long?
Will you give up the sympathy and charity of folks who pass by and start earning your own living?

There are many kinds of sickness and dependency in our world, and perhaps physical ailments are probably the easiest to say good-bye to. It may be hard to see the sympathy of friends dry up, but how wonderful to be able to move and breathe and function. No wonder people who’ve been cured are ready to sing and dance for joy.

Folks can get in a rut that’s uncomfortable or painful, but what they can see over the top looks pretty scary, too. One day a friend was lamenting her dependence on tobacco. She admitted that it was a costly, controlling habit. “It’s got your life,” she said. “I just can’t make it without my smokes.” Being a believer in prayer, I asked her if she’d like me to pray with her that God would give her the strength to quit. “No, I guess not,” she said. Either she didn’t believe God could help her leave this habit — or she was afraid He really would!

I think Jesus’ question is as relevant for us as it was back then. If medical science could come up with an amazing drug that could instantly cure people of substance dependence — replace all that dopamine the body’s lost so the person could truly start fresh — how many would accept the cure? Leave their old life, their friends? Or would the real world be too scary? As fellow blogger Martha K said not long ago, “You can’t get a person into rehab. If they don’t choose to go in of their own free will, it won’t do them any good.”

That First Step

We all have issues we put off as long as possible because they’re hard and will likely have unpleasant consequences. But finally we’re ready. We’ve circled this hill too long. Crossed the bridge emotionally dozens of times and still aren’t over. So we grit our teeth, square our shoulders and march forward.

Health issues. Quitting a habit, starting a diet and sticking with it. Undertaking a new and possibly risky treatment. Deciding what to do about your parent or child in a coma. The doctors are pressing for a decision.

Moving. All that packing and loading, unloading, rearranging! Moving away from home, having to stand on your own two feet, maybe having to support yourself financially. Moving elderly parents. Sorting out a lifetime of stuff. Moving an unwilling elderly parent. Facing the prospect of physically removing a parent with dementia from the home where they think they’re coping perfectly well. Taking away Dad’s driver’s license and/or car keys.

Tackling and finishing a project. Mending a fence when you know someone’s upset with you. Making that apology you know you should make. Backing up. And so on.

What “first steps” have you taken lately?

Relaxing at Home

Part of the Christmas story we never hear:
“And when the wise men arrived in Bethlehem, their camels finally got a much needed break.”

The Ragtag Daily Prompt yesterday was BREATHLESS and today it’s RELAX.

I trust you folks who’ve been rushing around breathlessly getting ready for family gatherings and/or tying up year-end duties at the workplace will soon be able to kick back and relax.

I have nothing original to say about these prompt words, but I do have this poem by Edgar Guest. I’m very fond of it myself.

NO PLACE TO GO

The happiest nights I ever know
are those when I’ve no place to go,
and the missus says
when the day is through, 
“Tonight we haven’t a thing to do.

Oh, the joy of it– and the peace untold
of sitting ‘round in my slippers old,
with my pipe and book
in my easy chair,
knowing I needn’t go anywhere.

Needn’t hurry my evening meal
nor force the smiles I do not feel,
but can grab a book
from a nearby shelf,
drop all sham and be myself.

Oh, the charm of it and the comfort rare;
nothing on earth that can compare!
And I’m sorry for him
who doesn’t know
the joy of having no place to go.

by Edgar A Guest
Image by S-wloczyk-2 at Pixabay