if i was in a nicer mood i would have titled this post ‘stand up or sit down’, but last weekend someone did something that so irritated me, i’m afraid this post will be a bit of a rant.

i am a big believer in having principles. *h would tell you that, often, i hold onto my principles too tightly. i fight for things when most people would just let them slide. and that’s why a lot of you know about my garden and this blog, right?

in real life many things are not a big deal. if you want a smooth life, the wisest course of action is often to not take things too seriously, and not to look at every slight as a potential proving ground. people who are naturally easy-going don’t even need to be told this; they just are this way. it truly wouldn’t occur to *h, for example, to get upset if someone else shoplifted from a store right in front of him. he might think it was really weird, and he might get very unsettled, but he wouldn’t get indignant over it; it’s just not his nature.

i, on the other hand, would lose it. i would run through a whole list of reasons in my head why shoplifting hurts everyone and why there is no such thing as a victimless crime, and even though i might hesitate if i thought the person might need what they were taking, i would have a very hard time not getting involved trying to right the injustice of it all. i would bristle at the idea that someone would just blatantly violate a law, and i would feel, like, compelled to do something about it. i do have moral conundrums- like what happens when someone breaks a law that is unjust in the first place?- but the point is that i think about these things and break them down and obsess over doing the most right thing.

this past weekend i was in a situation where someone perceived that i did something wrong. i was in a community place, sort of like that TV bar cheers: where everybody knows your name. the environment in this place is super-chilled, and pretty much everyone in there really did know everyone else. this girl was watching me do something that she didn’t like, and her response to this incident was first to text other people about it. then she called over someone else who was possibly braver and she tattled on me.

now, this struck me wrong for many reasons. the first was that, as i was standing not two feet away from her, she was literally texting about me and smiling in my face while i watched her sending the texts about what i was doing. so, i thought that was kind of babyish, but since i’m not exactly up on what is correct tech protocol (and since i am trying to be more zen and less reactive), i was like, “okay…whatever…”

i walked away for a few minutes to speak to someone else, and then this girl- someone who i don’t actually know, and who doesn’t know me- actually went out of her way to try to be sneaky and rat on me.

“for what?” you may ask.

so, here’s the deal. let’s say that what she thinks i did is something she thought was wrong. let’s say it’s the moral equivalent of shoplifting (i didn’t shoplift, by the way). i am a big believer in handling situations appropriately. if someone is standing next to you and doing something bad you can:

A) short of heroic actions involving weapons and citizen’s arrests, you can: say something to them. either in words or in actions, let them know what they are doing isn’t cool. so whether you say to the shoplifter, “really, dude?” or just raise you eyebrows and look toward their bag to let them know you know, you can be direct and call them out. but for heaven’s sake, don’t smile at them and tweet about it…

B) take appropriate action. notify store security or the teacher in a school or the parent of a child or whoever is in charge of the situation that is going wrong. gossiping with your friends is probably a stupid and useless waste of time and doesn’t paint you as a person who is serious about redressing a grievance.

C) choose a different, but still appropriate action. write your congressman. burn someone in effigy. it’s not for me to plan your campaign, but this whole sneaky whispery-tattle thing was all very grade-school and very uncouth.

D) this is the one i really feel like she should have chosen. if something isn’t important enough for you to stand up about, then keep your opinion to yourself and just shut up about it. i am hardly a large and imposing figure. if i was doing something that egregious, she should have just pointed it out. after all, i was about 10 inches away from her and we had started out on friendly terms. if she felt so strongly or so harmed by what was happening less than a foot from her face, she should have done something about it. and if it wasn’t that big of a deal she should have let it go.

i guess you can’t expect everyone in the world to have principles and you can’t expect everyone to do what’s right. some people will always hide behind someone else’s skirt. there’s a word for people like that, but i won’t say it here on the blog.

this one event turned into a cascade of petty events that plagued me and my family throughout the night and into the next day. it was the equivalent of someone sitting in back of you during a boring class and kicking the your chair repeatedly, or that gross kid in junior high who threw spit balls at you when the teacher’s back was turned. it was petty and stupid and loser-ish, and it wasn’t worthy of someone who truly had the cojones to stand up when a stance is needed.

luckily everyone involved will know who i’m talking about.