Yesterday, while I rode the BART train downtown, a woman tried to get her 2-year-old to sit in his stroller. He was crying and wriggling around and the woman was getting more and more incensed, shoving him into the stroller, whacking him on the legs, picking him up, hurling him back into the seat again, hitting him on the back, hard, over and over again…
We all watched this scene frozen in our seats, eyes wide, shocked, not knowing what to say. Finally, a man walked slowly up the aisle, kneeled down beside her, and said calmly, “I know this is a frustrating situation for you, but you can’t hit him.”
She began to cry then, and stuttered through an explanation about how the child was hitting her and he won’t get in his seat, etc.
The man repeated, very gently and very matter of factly, “I understand this is frustrating for you, and you can’t hit him.”
She stopped. The baby stopped crying. And then she got off the train.
Through the hot tears that poured down my face as I left, I felt so grateful for this man for teaching me something so important, so fundamental and beautiful about how to serve… I didn’t know what to say, if it was my “place” to say anything, if this woman would get even more angry if I did. And so I was silent.
It made me think of all of the places in my life where I’m not saying anything, and maybe I should be. It made me think of the war, and how we are watching this violence, sometimes like silent bystanders, amazed and horrifed that it’s even happening.
It made me think that someone needs to kneel beside our world leaders and say, “Hey. I know this is a frustrating situation, but you can’t hit them.”