Friday, February 04, 2005

Being Nice Can Cost You  

A couple of young girls decided to bake cookies for their neighbors one evening and deliver them. They practiced the safety procedures taught by practically every youth group (buddy system), and were home before curfew.

Still, for their act of kindness and generosity, they were sued, and lost.

I don't want to live in a world where people are punished for doing something nice and generous. Until today, I would have said sharing happiness was not a crime.

I dislike the thought that any judge would punish someone for doing good. Better, I think, for the judge to have denied this suit, especially since the girls offered both an apology and to pay for the medical bills before the woman sued.

Ms. Young said, "I just hope the girls learned a lesson." I'm not sure what lesson she wanted them to learn - that being nice is a Bad Thing? That being neighborly is Evil? That all good deeds will be punished? That judges will convict young girls for being generous?

Ms. Young needs to learn a lesson in kindness in her own turn. She's an adult (at least, I presume she is, since she has an 18 year old daughter), and to sue children for an act of kindness was an act of excessive cruelty.

I don't know what sheltered world Ms. Young inhabits, but it's not uncommon for people to knock on doors even as late as midnight. The proper response is to either peek out to see who it is, and if one can't do that, to ignore the knocking. Few criminals knock first, and the ones who do usually hope the door is answered because they lack lockpicking skills. Ms. Young's reaction was excessive, anad her response to the girls' apology and offer to pay the medical bills cruel. That the judge sided with Ms. Young was unjust and mean-spirited.

Since cookies were involved, I'd like to do something to combat this creeping meanness that is invading the US.

I propose a Kindness Cookie.

Whenever we seesomeone punishing another for an act of kindness or generosity, I suggest we give that mean person a cookie (chocolate chip or a sugar cookie, as that's what the girls baked) and a note reminding them that acts of kindness are sweet.

I am seriously resisting the temptation to say something as cruel as their act was/will be, so bear with me until I can think of something sufficiently pithy to say without being mean. Feel free to offer suggestions...

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