When I was 7 or 8 years old I remember getting mad at my younger sister a lot. She was only a year and a half younger than I and we used to compete in everything. She was a major tomboy and growing up on a farm in Bear Lake, Idaho only served to reinforce that trait in her. Being the younger sister she felt compelled to be better at everything I did. As the older sibling and feeling superior for being a boy (Hey, I was 7 or 8! Boys were better at everything! Besides girls had cooties!) I didn’t feel too threatened, but there were times when she’d just push me a little too far!
I remember one particular morning. I’m pretty sure it was a Saturday. Dad had gotten back from milking the cows that morning, finished breakfast, and was getting ready to head out again. As a young half-Japanese boy I was pretty sure that I was a ninja. So when my sister upset me, I did what any ninja would do. I jump kicked her in the chest and knocked her to the ground! Hai-ya!
Unfortunately young little ninjas are no match for 5’10″ 190 lbs of muscle…
My father played football. He was in the Army. He worked on a farm. He chucked bales of hay. He fixed fences. He worked on tractors. He moved sprinkler pipe by hand. I’m talking the 40′ length 6″ diameter bastards! And probably a mile or two of it when he did! In winter time he did this in his army jacket.
In other words, he was big and he was scary when he wanted to be!
So it is no small miracle that I didn’t crap my drawers as he grabbed the front of my shirt, lifted me up, looked me straight in the eye and said in a very calm, but stern voice, “If you ever hit your sister or any girl ever again, I will hit you as hard as I can.”
As I stared at this bear of a man, my life flashing before my eyes and praying for a re-run, I choked back the tears and with a timid gulp replied, “Okay…”
Fast forward four or five years…
We had moved off the farm and were living in Eugene, Oregon. It was a beautiful, sunny (which is a miracle in and of itself west of the Cascade Mountains) Sunday afternoon. Church had just finished and I was looking forward to going home, taking off my blasted tie, and goofing off. Unfortunately, my family had a tendency to take their time once church got out. They would get caught up socializing with people in the hallways and foyers. And with the impatience of a 12 year old I decided I was going to “prompt” my family into going home by waiting for them in the car.
Wading through the sea of people I approached the exit, walked calmly through, and proceeded my way across the parking lot…
“BRIAN!”, came the yell that stopped me dead in my tracks. “Get over here NOW!!!” (Yeah, my name is Brian. How weird is that?)
Turning I saw my father standing at the door to the church in a fit of rage. Wondering what in the world I could have possibly done to have upset my father, I noticed a woman walking through the lot looking at me obviously wondering the same thing.
As I approached my dad he placed his hand on my shoulder and firmly turned me around pointing at the woman. “Do you see that lady?” he asked.
“Yes,” I gulped. Clearly more confused than ever. Secretly wondering if she had told on me for something I wasn’t even sure I had done.
“You didn’t hold the door open for her,” he said.
Blinking I couldn’t believe that my dad had yelled at me from across a parking lot at church of all places for this! Are you kidding me?! How was I supposed to know that she was there? I didn’t see her coming behind me. And I told him so.
“You didn’t bother to look,” was his only response. I could see the disappointment on his face as he turned and walked away.
I normally tell these two stories around topics of chivalry, dating, and the general treatment of women. My dad raised me to respect women and treat them differently than men. I hesitate to say better, because he wanted me to treat everyone with respect, but he did teach me to treat women differently. But for the purposes of this post, I tell these two stories to explain my own views of how to treat people in general.
1 -Just because you can do something to someone else, doesn’t mean you should.
2- Just because you didn’t know doesn’t excuse the fact that you didn’t bother to look.
This post was inspired by a recent post by Beruthiel. It reached a length over 3400 words and wasn’t close to being done, so I shortened it considerably. The other two parts will probably appear in the next couple of days as separate posts.