If you are going to act like a child then I am going to treat you like a child
If you are of a certain age like me you may have heard or said these words. “If you are going to act like a child then I am going to treat you like a child.” Usually spoken to a teen or pre-teen acting in a childish manner. This saying reminds me of a couple of experiences from my youth. Stories that may be relevant today.
Trigger Warning: Possible common sense ahead.
Normal — The usual, typical, or expected state or condition.
Abnormal — Deviating from what is normal or usual, typically in a way that is undesirable or worrying.
Usual — The thing which is typically done or present.
Unusual — Not habitually or commonly occurring or done.
Safe Space — A place or environment in which a person or category of people can feel confident that they will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment, or any other emotional or physical harm.
During High School and College I worked at a local grocery store. I spent several years as a cashier and encountered a lot of different types of people. The most unusual experience occurred when I encountered my first transgender person. No amount of research or training could have prepared me for this encounter. I don’t understand the biology behind a person’s desire to be transgender nor do I feel I need to know. It seems irrelevant in deciding if an individual is a good person or not. This was clearly a man dressed as a woman, clearly a man that wanted to be a woman and clearly a man still very uncomfortable being in public dressed as a woman. I was uncomfortable also and I don’t think I was wrong for feeling that way. Given no reason to act otherwise, I acted like everything was normal. I treated her like I treated every other customer. I welcomed her, made sure she found everything, accurately totaled her order, collected the money and wished her a good day. Then I moved on to the next customer.
Over the next couple of years, if I was working she would come through my line. Our encounters became less unconformable until eventually it was just another normal encounter. Even though I still knew very little about this person I knew that they deserved to be treated like a decent human being because that is how she treated me. Without knowing it we had created, for lack of a better term, a safe space and we didn’t need anybody to tell us how to do it.
I am sure everyone remembers that one kid in school that was either a little strange, antisocial or just plain mean. You didn’t want to be around them let alone be their friend, no one did. Inevitably your mom or dad would hear about this kid and at least in my case they showed compassion. They urged, even forced me to at show him kindness. This kid was not nice to me, why would I reward his bad behavior by sharing my Twinkie, Ding Dong or Moon Pie with him. Those are all real snacks, look it up. Regardless of the fact that this is morally correct behavior I resented them for forcing me to do it.
Even if it is morally correct, we don’t need the government or any entity or group to tell us how to interact with each other. We all will naturally gravitate towards people we like and are comfortable with. We will make our own safe spaces. If we are forced to act certain ways around certain people whether they deserve it or not we will resent it.
If you are a liar, you will probably be called a liar.
If you objectify women, you will most likely be called a sexist pig.
If you spread hate, some people will hate you back.
But maybe, if you are a decent human being, you will be treated like a decent human being.
Otherwise, if you act like a child, I am going to treat you like a child.