As Skyla and I reached the end of the walking trail, I heard it.
Jeering and taunting. It sounded like teenage boys.
We came up to the blue house on the corner, and I could see I was right. Two teenage boys were standing in the front lawn. An older, heavyset boy was picking up rocks from the landscaping and shoving them into the pocket of his hoodie.
Then he joined his friend and squinted up at the house.
I quickly pulled out my phone and prepared to videotape these hoodlums.
The boy pulled back his arm and chucked the rock as hard as he could. The rock slammed into the side of a tree, and it was then that I noticed the boys weren’t aiming at the house at all.
They were trying to knock a terrified squirrel out of the tree. The first boy threw another rock and got dangerously close to hitting the squirrel.
“Hey!” I shouted. The boys spun around, apparently unaware that they were being watched.
“Don’t you kids have someplace to be other than bothering squirrels?” Really, it was 1:00 in the afternoon on a Friday.
The ringleader gave me a nasty look and sulked away with his friend, but not before yelling, “Squirrels have rabies!”
Skyla and I watched them walk down the street and into an apartment complex. I craned my neck back to look at the squirrel in the tree. It seemed OK.
I took comfort in the fact that I was able to save this squirrel, since that hasn’t always been the case.
It makes me really sad when I see or read about people torturing animals, especially when kids are involved. It’s a slippery slope. Once a person loses respect for animal life, they can lose respect for human life, including their own. And it’s not unusual to hear about a criminal who started out his life of crime by hurting small animals.
As Skyla and I walked home, I started thinking about why some people seem naturally kind and others not so much.
I have a question that I ask myself periodically to make sure I’m on the right path with my life.
I ask myself, “Am I being kind?”
This question is so simple, and yet it has such a powerful impact on my actions. It applies to countless situations: how I reply to email, how I talk to my husband, the products I buy, the companies and causes I support, and even what I eat.
I truly believe that many of the world’s big problems could be solved if people would stop and ask themselves, “Am I being kind?”
Sure, you could also use “What would Jesus do?”, but for those of us who follow a different path (or no path at all), it’s nice to have a clear, simple way to check in with our ethics.
Sometimes when I ask myself if I’m being kind, I have to answer, “No.” This usually happens when I’m stressed out or haven’t eaten in a while.
But that’s the beauty of this question! By simply asking it, I can either reaffirm my choices or make adjustments so I can head in the right direction.
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