As soft drink ran down the wall of the toilet cubicle onto my foot (I was in the adjacent cubicle) I was indignantly curious who was making this vandalising mess. A can was thrown into the cubicle I was in, and it was on. I made myself ‘decent’ and opened the door challenging the two fourteen-year-old boys responsible. I told the boy who had made the mess that he better get started in cleaning it up as I challenged their disrespectful behaviour, telling them that imagine being the cleaner cleaning their mess us if they didn’t clean it up themselves — that wouldn’t be fair.
But God laid something on my heart for these two. They seemed to respond to my chastising them, even if they did mock me a little, which I laughed at.
Later it came to pass that one of them had a story, so I asked him to share it with me. It was a sad family story of abandonment. It seemingly didn’t bother this boy that his father had abandoned him. He may have gotten used to the idea that his father had little interest in him, but I didn’t buy for one moment that he wasn’t identified by that rejection.
I then saw his earlier behaviour in context.
I saw something in this young man that lacks trust in an adult world that has betrayed him at his core. Nobody can create this distrust in a young man more than a father who abandoned him. So, he learned to take the law into own hands. If you cannot trust people you don’t allow them even a chance at being trusted.
Everyone has their story, and that story informs who they are.
People are not racist, rapist, violent, war-mongers for no reason. Paedophiles are what they are for a reason. There is always a reason.
When we see the cause-and-effect nature in people’s lives, empathy is hatched, compassion spreads it wings, and kindness soars.
When we see the inputs into people’s lives equal, more or less, their outcomes, that the inputs were outside their control, we’re suddenly much less judgmental.