A family of father, mother and two children is approaching me along the promenade. They are walking, loudly discussing something, gnawing seeds and throwing the husks to the ground at the same time.
I approach the head of the family, who is about my age, even, perhaps, younger, and I ask him to step aside for a second, so as not to make a warning in front of the children.
“Excuse me, could you not throw garbage on the ground,” I say to the man.
“Why do you care?” He asks, frowning.
I live in this city and I want it to be clean.
The man’s surprise turns into discontent and aggression.
– You know what? Teach your children how to live, “smart guy”! I’m not a kid, so that every passer-by would make me comments on the streets! Clear?
– Excuse me. I did not mean to offend you. Why do you perceive my words so aggressively? Am I wrong?
– I’ve said all I must say!
The man turns around and goes to his family. While they are in the reach of my hearing, I hear him retell our conversation to his family, supplying them with his savory comments. In response, the children exclaim: “Well done, Dad! It’s cool you thumbed his nose! “, And the wife proudly clings to the shoulder of her husband and looks at me with a contemptuous glance.
I take a deep breath and continue my journey in philosophical thoughts.
A little later I meet a similar family doing the same thing.
I again ask the head of the family to step aside for a second and make a comment.
This time the man smiles in embarrassment and says:
– You’re right. I’m too tired. I’m sorry.
Then he adds:
You’re doing fine, as you are making such comments! Thank you.
It makes me feel good. I shake his hand, and we take leave, smiling at each other.
A man goes to his family, and while they are in the reach of my hearing, I hear that a man retells our conversation to his family. In doing so, he praises me for my consciousness and civic engagement. The children smile and kindly look at me, and his wife once again apologizes to me.
I can see how they throw the bucket of seeds in the nearest urn and continue walking along the promenade in a leisurely conversation.
I smile and also continue my way in philosophical thoughts.
I try this situation on myself and think if I would have had enough courage to accept fair criticism. And how would members of my family perceive such behavior: as weakness or as nobility?