The 17th installment of my Monday Mantra #ABC Series: I am the change.
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. ... We need not wait to see what others do.” —Ghandi
Last week, I saw two people through the glass of my front door (a man and a woman) that appeared to be on a walk on my street. Though I was in the foyer of my home, the pair still caught my eyes. It wasn’t because of the way they looked; it was because of the behavior they were displaying.
Just as my instincts told me I needed to stop what I was doing and watch them, the man sat down on the ledge of my neighbor’s front lawn. The woman seemed to stop and yell at the man, but I could hear no words, and my home was close enough to where I should have been able to hear her yelling. I found that to be strange.
She then started up the stairs leading to my neighbor’s home. She had a heavy limp and that confused me. I wondered why someone with a limp would be climbing the stairs instead of the man, who appeared to walk just fine.
While she walked closer to my neighbor’s porch, the man looked straight on into the street, looking back and forth. The woman proceeded to the front door and picked up an Amazon package. I then watched her try to open the box. She had a large bag on her shoulders and I felt, in that moment, she was attempting to steal the contents of the box.
I intuitively opened my front door and yelled “That’s not yours! Put that down! That doesn’t belong to you!”. I yelled as loud as I could, knowing that would bring attention to the situation. And, it did. (I figured if I was wrong, I could apologize, but if I was right, it could really help my neighbor).
She dropped the package and he stood up, with his hands over his head. He said “Okay, okay, we’ll move along. We’re sorry!” I yelled some more, “I believe you, but what you are doing is not right. All the neighbors in this neighborhood look out for each other. My camera caught what you did. I caught what you did. I’m calling the police.” He proceeded to say he was sorry, she started mumbling some things (which I could not understand), but they did peacefully retreat down the street.
My heart was beating fast; I knew they needed to hear more from me. I felt empathy take over, so I said “Stealing is wrong! You need to go to a shelter if you need help or go get a job. This isn’t right. I am calling the police now.” They continued to walk away and I instinctively grabbed my phone and started taking photos of them. He turned, put his hands up again and asked me to stop. I yelled some more “No. You need to keep moving. I’m not taking this anymore.” I went inside my home, called 911, giving them an accurate description of the pair and where they were headed, and the operator said she’d send a patrol car to the area. Being home, by myself, I felt I made the right decision. I also texted my husband (he was at work) and he agreed with me.
After getting off the phone I really started thinking. I know stealing things like Amazon packages is merely a petty crime. Most people caught doing this sort of thing (IF they are caught) may spend a day or more in jail, but that’s about it. They are released and most continue the behavior and I think it’s sad, but, what can I do about it?
This has been my question since it happened.
What can I do about it?
The stealing of packages off of people’s front porches has been all over Facebook for a while now and it’s happening in ALL types of neighborhoods. I feel my neighborhood is very safe yet it happened. Many are taking the time to take items out of the packages (like I saw the woman attempt to do) and put them in backpacks or purses so it can’t be proven that they stole the item/s if caught.
I figured if I “made a scene” with words that had truth and meaning (instead of shouting obscenities), perhaps this man and woman would get the message that someone was watching and was tired of it. (I also yelled because it brings attention and most thieves don’t want attention.)
I am tired of it, but I have empathy. Because of this empathy, I wondered if I executed behaviors towards the people that I should have. That caused a journal entry to happen.
Here is my journal entry excerpt:
(FYI: My dog, Vegas, who passed away recently is mentioned (so you know who I am talking about):
“Please, Vegas, my big protector, always watch over us. I believe your spirit was with me yesterday when I was watching out our front door and caught a man and a woman trying to steal/open someone’s Amazon package.
Vegas had been watching out the front door again recently, something he hadn’t done in a while. Maybe he knew something was up? Pets know things.
His watch dog skills are definitely something I learned. You have to be AWARE at all times. I feel sad that someone feels they have to steal. I prayed for them both. I truly don’t believe someone wakes up in a perfectly “normal” life and says “That’s it. I’m going to do drugs, quit working, live on the streets and steal just to get by.
I have empathy for these people; these HUMANS. But, my question is this: What can you do for these people?
YOU CAN’T HELP AN ADULT WHO IS CAPABLE OF MAKING THEIR OWN DECISIONS. They have to want to change.
I believe all we can do is CONSTANTLY live by example. WE MUST BE AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE FOR THOSE THAT CHOOSE A PATH THAT “DOESN’T WORK”.
Maybe those that steal are happy in the moment, but I know that kind of happiness is short lived.
YOU MUST BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD. Thank you for being behind that kind thought, Ghandi. You are right.
I AM THE CHANGE.”
—Journal entry end—
My journal entry made me feel I reacted appropriately. I could have stood in my home, watched them steal, call the police and called it a day or I could have also thought to myself “Well, someone else surely sees this happening. I’ll let them call the police or say something.” but I didn’t instinctively react that way. I may have at one point in my life, but not now, as I’ve found my voice. It didn’t happen overnight (that’s for sure), but the more I use my voice, the better it gets.
I decided to do something about it in the most peaceful way I could think of. One of my neighbors did this for me (when someone tried to steal one of my packages years ago) and I was able to (unfortunately) pay it forward.
I posted the photos of the people (they didn’t show their faces clearly, but they still were descriptive enough) and a description of the event on Facebook and the NextDoor app. I appropriately described the situation (calmly, the way I did to the 911 operator), because, again, I have empathy. I don’t know the people I caught (or their life situation), but I want to make people in my neighborhood and on social media aware (not scared).
It’s been shared numerous times on both apps with many commentaries. So far, people have been understanding, courteous, encouraging and thankful. Because of this, I believe I was able to set a good example for how people should speak to these events.
My neighbor (whose package I saved) thanked me today. He told me they have had 2 packages stolen in the past 2 months. He said he would become more vigilant in watching out for others as well.
So my advice to any readers out there, always remember this mantra “I am the change”. Write it and say it until it motivates you as it does me. I wish for all humans to be the change (change yourself AND and facilitate it in others), in an empathetic and truly helpful way.
You can’t necessarily help adults the way you think you can. Adults have to live and learn (and hopefully get the help they need). I believe helping people who steal, do drugs, are homeless, etc. IS POSSIBLE, however, be careful how you do so. You can’t force an adult to do something they don’t want to do. If those two adults hadn’t left my neighbor’s property peacefully, I would have been able to step right inside my home quickly, lock the door, and call 911 from the safety of my home.
You can have empathy for those that appear to need help, but maybe instead of giving money to the next person you believe is homeless or a drug addict (because you think it is helping them, which, instead, it is usually enabling them), share the name of charities that could help them. OR, donate your money or time to charities that support those that have chosen paths that “don’t work”. Simply go to Google.com and put in a keyword like “homeless charities” and see what comes up. Research IS education and education is the key to a better life for all.
Sending my light and love to all who need it!
Backstory on my mantra series:
A mantra is a word, phrase, or sound that is repeated to aid in meditation. You could also compare it to a sort of prayer. I feel my journaling and writing of my mantras is a form of meditation or prayer. It calms me and helps me make better sense of my feelings and all the thoughts swimming around in my mind.
I believe saying or writing something repeatedly, as you already have it, aids one in attaining dreams and goals. If you write something as you already have it, it makes you feel, somehow, as if it is truly happening no matter how drastic or scary it may seem. It's like a trick to help your brain catch up to what your heart desires.