What a truly wondrous world it would be if we
were all capable of actually living our everyday lives practicing
what we preach.
This thought occurred to me after I found myself losing my
temper with a neighbor who refuses to follow simple parking
etiquette. Where I live, it's street-side parking, meaning
we have to parallel park on the road. There is plenty of space
to accommodate everyone in my quadruplex, assuming we all
pull fully into our spaces. However, the neighbor behind me
is in the habit of pulling up slightly intoxicated and taking
up two spaces.
Normally, I don't care how someone parks, but on my block,
if you can't get a space right in front, the next space is
likely to be more than a block away. I have tried to communicate
with this person repeatedly, to no avail. Each time this occurs,
I find my thoughts a little more murderous.
To quote a certain mule, "Isn't that rich?"
You see, a while back, I wrote an article about loving your
neighbor. It was long and flowery, full of altruism that I
firmly believe in; yet seem to forget when it comes to matters
of my own comfort and inconvenience. After sharing with some
friends how shallow and false this realization made me feel,
I discovered it's a fairly common phenomenon.
It seems that many of us know what we think and feel, what
we believe, but it doesn't always translate into action. No
matter how much we would like to be this way, we forget, or
are simply not motivated enough to make the sacrifices that
come with practicing the altruistic messages we preach. We
say mistreatment of livestock is bad, but we still eat meat.
We say we don't support child labor, but we still wear Nikes.
We say to love your neighbor, but we still cuss them out when
they take our parking spaces. But, first chance we get, we'll
be out there saying something else, the good-intentioned hypocrites
we are, still doing our damndest to spread a message we don't
believe in strongly enough to follow it if it infringes upon
So, what can we do?
First of all, we have to evaluate what our message is. Do
we really believe this, or is it something we spout out of
instinct? If we do believe it, why don't we follow it? Is
it laziness, apathy, lack of concern, short-sightedness?
If our messages stand up to that test, and we discover that
the lack of motivation and attention paid is causing our hypocrisy,
then we can take basic steps to fix it. Leave yourself reminder
notes. Approach these things the same way you approach breaking
any bad habit. Being a person who practices what you preach
isn't necessarily hard; it's just a lifestyle. Like any lifestyle,
if you can get yourself into it, it's not hard to stay there.
The reward? Being able to look in the mirror with a strong
sense of self-respect. Knowing you are the person you want
and claim to be. Making a positive impact on the world around
you, maybe even starting with your neighbor. Most of all,
the undeniable satisfaction of being someone who lives by
the words of a particular Bard:
"To thine own self be true; and as the night follows
the day, so shall it follow that thou canst not be false to
any other man..."
Copyright © 2001 Chris Jenkins. All Rights
Chris Jenkins is a nice enough guy, but
please don't park in his space; it REALLY annoys him. Contact
him at ChrisJ@Spark-Online.com