Thomas Jefferson wrote in The Declaration of Independence “All men are created equal.” Today, we interpret “men” to mean “people,” but at that time “men” was not intended to be inclusive of women, or even of men who were not white. Inequity existed 200 years ago, and it still exists today. Don’t let anyone tell you that everyone gets a fair shot. Be sympathetic to the disadvantaged and work hard to include them.
Abandoning your shopping cart in the middle of the parking lot implies a sense of entitlement. Someone has to put it away, that someone should be you.
When things are free, it’s easy to overindulge. If you take ten bananas because the bananas are free, you’ll likely end up with eight rotten bananas covered in flies while another person is left tragically bananaless. Take what you’re going to use and leave the rest for someone else.
Teaching you to fear strangers would be cynical. The generosity of unknown people will ease your burden on many occasions. Instead, I want you to learn to gauge people’s intentions by listening to your gut instincts and recognizing subtle cues. Confidence in this skill will allow you to avoid the aberrant persons you encounter and embrace something much more common – the kindness of strangers.
Getting to know your neighbors is a pleasure; if you’re really lucky like your father and I, you may find some lifelong friends living right next door. Even if not, it still helps to have a cordial relationship; it allows you to beg their pardon if your dinner party is too loud or to ask for a spare egg if you need one.
Any animal that you befriend or happen to encounter is deserving of your compassion and benevolence. What separates us from animals is only, arguably, sentience. Inasmuch as the laws of nature decree they are food, they are still entitled to lives of dignity.
Whether overweight or thin, it just makes people uncomfortable when you discuss their bodies. It’s really none of your business anyway.
As a child you may feel as though you’re required to submit to an arbitrary set of rules: constantly told where to sit and what to say and which fork to use. I want you to understand the bigger reason for all of this, even beyond conforming to social norms. As an adult you won’t be afforded the same latitude you enjoy today to freely express your emotions. When the tide of your own passion is so high you’re at a loss for how to behave, your manners will guide you. They are the tool you will use to maintain your dignity.