Friday, October 4, 2013

If a boy is rude on a train, does anyone hear his pain?

The other day I was on the train when I witnessed a minor incident. There was a boy sitting next to me in school uniform - he looked about 14 years old. When a middle-aged lady got on the train and looked for a seat, she approached him and asked him to stand up for her, at which point he ignored her and sank further down into his chair.

A gentleman got up (who was getting off the train anyway) and offered the lady his seat. Then the lady joined in with two other people to loudly criticise the boy's behaviour. I had my headphones in so can't comment on what they were saying but they were making it obvious they were angry at him.

They do have a point. In Perth, students pay concession fares on public transport and are obliged to give up their seats for full paying customers. Beyond that, I think if anyone asked most of us to give up our seats we would do so; I know if someone asked me for my seat I would assume they needed it more than me - that's why they asked for it. 

So now there are two reasons why he 'should' have given up his seat, three if you include the social pressure exerted on him from the other people on the train, and yet, he didn't. Why?

Obviously I don't know the boy's situation but my mind went this way. I think if he'd been raised in an environment where he was taught to respect himself and to respect others then he would have gotten up immediately. So he's lacking love and respect for himself. When the women began to criticise him he didn't appear affected, he appeared used to it. I felt like their words were fermenting his own low opinion of himself rather than raising his awareness. I thought the boy needed a hug.

What do you think? Teenage terror or lost little boy? I'll probably never know but it's worth giving him the benefit of the doubt. Next time someone does something 'rude' contemplate the reasons behind that person's behaviour, this allows us to see past the action and find the compassion required to reach out and help.

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