Why Bother To Tread Lightly?

Why Bother To Tread Lightly?

I am grateful that I live in a beautiful part of our country. So far, the lake I swim in is still a clean body of water, the skyline is filled with majestic mountains instead of smokestacks, and pine trees along with the deer population outnumber people. Most folks who live here are conscientious of the environment and want to keep it as pristine as possible. As a matter of fact, on one of the trails I hike in the summer and x-country ski in the winter stands a very old tree with the plaque nearby that reads, “Please help us to protect this special tree. It works hard to live here, and soil compaction from your footsteps harms its fragile roots.” 

What Does Your Plaque Read?

Each time I stand under that old tree and consider the words on its plaque, it causes me to pause. What would it be like if we were as concerned for one another as we are for preserving our natural and beautiful surroundings. If we carried a plaque, what would it say that might help to remind others to treat us with care? 

Granted, it is hard to live in our world and sometimes people do step on us accidentally, as well as on purpose. Either way, giving others a wide berth, a bit of understanding and a little forgiveness keeps a mutual feeling of civility between people. Though we may think everyone is aware of common courtesies, they do not seem as common any more.  “Please”, “thank-you”, “excuse me”, and “I’m sorry”  are small words, but when used, they make a big difference. 

Noticing others and giving a friendly wave, smile or nod when walking by them lets them know that you see them. To acknowledge and greet another person, even if they are a stranger, is a simple act of kindness. Ignoring them is terribly rude. 

It is easy to see when someone needs a helping hand. Opening a door for an elderly person, pulling over when a driver is in obvious distress, stopping to pick up something that someone has dropped or helping to catch a dog on the loose are all simple and uncomplicated ways we can be helpful to others. 

Finally, there are those who don’t look as though they need help, but you get a sense that they do. Maybe they need a listening ear, a word of encouragement, or some wise counseling. Knowing how to help can be difficult, but knowing they need help is easy to detect. 

If I were to wear a plaque it might say something like this— “Thank you for making eye contact with me, thank you for taking a moment to smile. Thank you for a kind word, but mostly, thank you for acknowledging that we are both human.”

Why bother to tread lightly? It is worth it to remember that we are all fragile in some way or another and a simple act of kindness keeps our footsteps from tromping one another down.