Liquid Footprints

Soiled Bodies, Strained Compassion

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There is an older lady at work who visits the store everyday of the week at the same time. She buys the same thing day after day. The only problem with her is the fact she is  unwashed. Her stink makes your face melt.  To make matters worse, she is capable of washing; she simply chooses not to do so. Mind you, this is more than simply body odor. She smells like roadkill on a hot day.

Whenever she comes by many people literally turn green. When I think about the situation through my roiling stomach, I ponder how compassionate I am toward her. I admit I avoid her like a plague unless I must. I feel bad for her, yet there is an element of personal responsibility. Compassion isn’t a door mat to be walked on. Arguably she isn’t hurting anyone but herself (disregarding the people who had asthma attacks around her). Yet, there are limits to what should be public tolerated. Businesses are too enabling with poor behavior. Their primary responsibility as a human institution is to ease suffering; profit comes second.

Each time this old woman enters I ponder the dividing line between one person’s right and another’s right. Barring her from the store will cause suffering for her, but at the same time it alleviates suffering by the asthmatic and other people negatively affected by her choice not to bathe. On a wider view, it is common for one person’s right to infringe on another. The freedom of religion often infringes on the rights of homosexuals and other groups for example. The practice of compassion sometimes leaves us lost to what is truly good and right to do.

I concluded that any action that is devoid of understanding is not a right; anything that isn’t an act of compassion cannot be considered a right. In the store’s small case, the walking cloud of stink doesn’t have the right not to bathe because is shows she doesn’t care about the well being of the people around her. Likewise freedom of religion ends when it infringes on the rights of homosexuals to have a relationship. Freedom of speech ends as soon as infringes on someone else’s rights.  In all of these cases, the infringement results of lack of understanding and compassion. It can also be reversed to some degree. homosexuals are wrong when they infringe on someone’s right to free religion. Essentially I am saying people need to be consider of each other and stop being self centered. Being self centered is not a human right.

In the case of the old women, if she wasn’t able to wash herself I wouldn’t even mention it. However, the fact she selfishly chooses not to wash shows her lack of consideration for others. Businesses and communities need to stop tolerating similar selfish behavior. When adults act like 2 year old children throwing tantrums, they should be treated as 2 year olds. It isn’t out of vengeance or anything. Like 2 year olds, many adults need to be corrected in their selfish behavior. It is society’s responsibility to do the correction. A concerted effort on the part of all businesses to stamp out selfishness (such as fighting over toys at Christmas sales) would go a long way to curb such negative behavior. Both communities and businesses stand to gain when people act less selfishly. Businesses will have fewer losses related to damaged products, sick leave, health costs, and theft when they work together to stop the childish behavior that plagues America today. Communities also stand to benefit from a more altruistic populace.

It is only through compassion and understanding can we achieve lasting peace within ourselves and with others. Selfishness is a stink that clings closer than body odor.

Author: Chris

Wanders the world of Japanese culture and library nerdiness.

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