Sunday, July 24, 2016

Street Smarts

A lot of the graffiti you see (in Los Angeles, anyway) is on the sidewalk. Often stenciled.  Lately, a phrase I've noticed popping up more than once is: "Leave People Better Than You Found Them."

The line is sometimes attributed to Marvin J. Ashton, a Mormon leader.  The full quote goes:

Be the one who nurtures and builds. Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart.  One who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them.

Sounds pretty good. In fact, the worst part is the end, so it's too bad that's the sentence these anonymous street-scrawlers love so much.

Telling people to leave others better than they found them is an open invitation for people to get all up in your business.  For them to start lecturing you about morality.  For them to demand you do your duty, whatever that is.

If I had my own can of paint--and some turpentine--I'd change the message to something much simpler:

Leave people alone.


Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Reminds me of something Heinlein wrote:

Political tags--such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and. so forth--are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.

11:57 AM, July 24, 2016  
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