I just listened to the end of an NPR report on the problem of unvaccinated children infecting other children too young for vaccinations with illnesses like measles that can cause death and developmental problems. It's interesting that some of the choices we make with our children deeply affect the community at large. This speaks to recognizing that your decisions can't be made lightly nor can you ignore the needs of other people when you are choosing to bring another human being into this world. The health care worker who was interviewed said the non vaccinators were perfectly nice people. They just didn't care if they made other kids seriously ill.
When I was eleven and we lived in London my parents invited Anthony Burgess and his wife to dinner (He wrote "A Clockwork Orange" among other things). They had a little boy, three I think, whose name was something like Louie. Louie spent the entire evening under the dining room table biting our ankles. I recall being appalled at his mother who didn't do anything but occasionally said, "Louie, darling, won't you eat something?" while he continued the biting. I found this child's behavior very confusing. I had been taught to behave in public and for that I'm grateful. My son would probably have been less polite if I was the only parent. His father had the ability to remove him from the situation and speak to him alone and return him completely chastened. Now, I have heard rumors of throttling and terrible threats and I hope those didn't occur but I'm happy to have a teenager who opens doors, introduces himself, and behaves well with other people.
When Luke was little I wanted him to be kind and considerate and didn't really bother worrying about his gifted status or whether he was going to get into a top high school. As it is, he is in a good school and sometimes he's unkind and inconsiderate but only to me or his father. His public face is one that displays an awareness of the needs of other people. I think this may be the key to the cell phone abusers, the people who don't wait in line or won't let another car in when the traffic is backed up, who take seconds before people have had firsts or fail to stand when someone pregnant, injured or elderly enters a bus or train, no one taught them how to behave in the world of other people. These people usually don't ask you any questions about yourself and rarely know how to sustain a conversation unless it consists of telling you about themselves or their gifted children.
Put down your cell phone. Take your kids out and tell them about the world. Model kind behavior. Ask the lady at TARGET how she is. Tip your Barista. Always say please and thank you, offer to help someone with a heavy burden, remember things about other people, be s patient as possible. You will help the entire world.