We sometimes use veiled threats in an attempt to get children to behave.
One example that I despise is when a parent with an unruly child sees a law enforcement officer and says something like, “If you don’t behave, I’m going to have that policeman lock you up.”
If you do that, stop. We have enough trouble in this world getting folks to respect our law enforcement professionals without making them the faux bad guy in dealing with your child.
The other one that gets me is using Santa as the threat. “If you don’t straighten up, I’m going to tell Santa.”
I think it is fine that Santa wants us to be good, but the threat of taking away presents because your kid blew a gasket in public is a bit much.
But what about us?
If this is the season of joy and giving, why do we act so badly? Need an example, try driving in a shopping mall parking lot on a busy Saturday in December. There are people who will pull in front of you and drive insanely to get a parking place that is 50 feet closer to the door.
Once inside, people will push their way with a shopping cart to get one step closer to the checkout aisle.
When groups like The Salvation Army are ringing their bells, I’ve seen people walk out of their way to avoid them. It’s OK if you gave at the last kettle, but what does it hurt to smile at someone who is standing outside in the cold to collect a little change for people in need?
I live a few doors down from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or the Mormons. I have my differences of religious opinion with them, but you can’t argue with their faithfulness.
I met a young man last week from a suburb of Salt Lake City. He is on mission for the Mormon Church in Gainesville.
I have spent some time in Salt Lake City. In a typical neighborhood, everyone in your block and the next few blocks around you attends the same local meetinghouse on Sunday.
This young guy has been assigned to a place where there may be a few hundred Mormons in a county that has about 200,000 people. There are a lot of doors to be knocked upon.
Sadly, I have seen people literally slam the door in the visitor’s face.
What’s the harm in saying, “I already attend a church, but I thank you for stopping by and wish you the best.”
This young man and his friends were planning to attend our Living Christmas Tree at First Baptist Church. They will be welcomed and greeted with kindness. I was greeted with kindness when I visited Temple Square in Salt Lake City.
Jesus, the one we celebrate at Christmas, talked about offering a little kindness.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,” he said.
The trouble is, if Jesus came back to a mall parking lot or our front door, we’d likely blow the horn or slam the door at him.
Kindness doesn’t cost a whole lot, but it sure yields some handsome dividends.
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose column publishes on Sundays.