It’s about getting cussed out for a cigarette…

please chill out already

by Kenneth Justice

~Earlier in the week as I was leaving the café after enjoying my morning coffee a random dude in a wheelchair asked if I had a cigarette,

“Sorry man, I don’t have any” I said

“Mother f****r! What the f*** is wrong with you!” he yelled at me. It caught me by surprise to get cussed out by a stranger for not having a cigarette… and for just a moment I considered turning around to him and giving him a piece of my mind………but then; I decided to let it go.

When I looked back at the guy and weighed in my mind whether to get into a cussing match with him I couldn’t help but realize that by the looks of it; the guy had clearly been stuck in a wheel chair for a long time….and he was probably going to be confined to one for the rest of his life……..

Was he in the wrong for dropping the F-Bomb on me simply because I didn’t have a cigarette? Sure…..but so what? Would I have really gained anything by responding towards him with the same level of hostility that he treated me?

All week long I have been discussing one simple concept; demonstrating grace to people and chilling out,

—) On Sunday I talked about enjoying every moment and not sweating the small things….that it’s okay to enjoy the little things in life, and that we don’t have to get mad at others when they do as well.

—) On Monday I talked about the importance of letting go of bitterness and grudges

—) On Tuesday I expanded the topic of bitterness by suggesting that we should also be there for those we love…even when they make choices we may disagree with them on

—) On Wednesday I compared and contrasted authentic love and grace against fake love

—) On Thursday I showed where life takes us when we don’t forgive the mistakes of others

—) Yesterday I discussed the tragic consequences of parents who cut their children off over religious doctrine

Perhaps I am wrong but it seems that so many people all across Western Society are on edge; at any given notice people are ready to go to war over the stupidest s**t imaginable. Road rage, relatives who argue over who will host the holiday dinner, parents who hold their children to unrealistic expectations, young adults who demonstrate so little respect to their parents and others in authority, sibling rivalries….and so much more.

It seems like a weekly ritual to turn on my television and see people disrespecting politicians, politicians disrespecting citizens, people disrespecting law enforcement, and law enforcement disrespecting people…..everywhere I turn people are at each others throats with anger and hostility.

And then, when I see parents refusing to look past the mistakes and choices of their children…….it only saddens me all the more. Because of all places where we should see the most amount of grace and love; it should be within our homes….right? But when I meet someone whose parents have kicked them out of the house because of disagreements over religious beliefs……I can only shake my head and wonder what the hell is going on in this world.

I respect the various readers who have emailed me in recent weeks and have accused me of being too soft and of not taking a firmer stance on various issues…….but in a world with so much anger, hate and hostility…..don’t we need more people to begin living lives based on grace, forgiveness, and love?

Sure, perhaps I sound cheesy……maybe I’ve been listening to John Lennon for too much of my life and I’ve got the tune “all we need is love….” stuck in my head. But if we are going to be honest with ourselves…..there are not very many well known public figures who are talking about grace, love, and forgiveness…and turning the other cheek.

—-) Hollywood celebrities are all about talking about themselves and accepting awards

—-) Athletes are all about people watching them and doing little dances after they make a great play

—-) Rock stars and pop stars are all about fame and living lives of luxury and excess

—-) Politicians are all about their own agendas and personal gain

Am I overgeneralizing just a bit? Perhaps……but for the most part the Mother Therese’s, Gandhi’s, and Jesus Christ’s of the world simply do not exist anymore…….the people who emulate those kind of characters are few and far between.

The people who live lives based on grace and love……are not the people we put on television and watch on 24/7 cable news shows.

So did I walk over to the guy in the wheelchair and give him a twenty dollar bill to go buy cigarettes? Nope. I won’t pretend to you that I am some saint who gives money to people who cuss me out. Honestly, it took everything in me to bite my tongue and not cuss the dude out…..I was gritting my teeth as I turned away from him and walked toward my car……..

But perhaps in that moment……simply walking away was enough. Sure, the guy was definitely down-and-out and I probably should of done what I could to help him out…..but if walking away was the only good alternative I could offer to cussing him out….then maybe I made the best decision at the time.

I definitely don’t want anyone to think that I’m any different than the next person……I’m just as self-centered as anyone else…..but perhaps in writing all this down every morning I’m slowly learning to move in a positive direction.

Besides, at least writing every morning gives me something to do as I drink my coffee,








Categories: Culture & Society

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

73 replies

  1. In 2009 I found a cancer support group. I met one woman that could light up a room with her love. She isn’t any better than anyone else, but she makes a conscious effort to help others in pain. Then I passed it on to the next woman I met. I believe you do what you can. If at any given moment I am hanging on by my own emotional thread, I do no harm. Teaching this practice to others (by example) is all the world needs.

  2. Fantastic post. I cannot agree with you more.
    But being cussed at. I at least would have said or asked “Sorry?”
    And ask for an explanation. I did nothing wrong. if I did I would love to have him enlighten me. Not to fight but to understand why?
    Walking away is better than cuss you are right we do not need more fights.
    One fine cup of coffee.

    • Ranting Crow,

      ha ha you are right, merely asking “sorry” would have been good….but honestly I was a millisecond away from tearing into the guy with every cuss word in the book……I tend to have a short fuse when it comes to people cussing at me.

  3. Awesome self control. It’s possible the guy was reacting out of a nicotine craving as well. It doesn’t excuse his behavior, though – not in the least.
    Contrariwise, I’m finding I’ve gone too far in the opposite direction where I don’t stand up for myself enough. I’m having to practice at drawing lines in order to protect myself concerning strangers, friends, and family alike.
    Honestly, one of the best things my husband taught me was to stand up for myself. He’d hurt my feelings, and later on when I’d say something, he’d say, “If I’m being an a$$hole then tell me.”

    So where do we draw the line? I agree that firing back at your guy wouldn’t have been good for either of you, but I’m not so sure if walking off without a word would have been the best choice if it had been me. It’s like that story that went viral a while back where the Dunkin’ Donuts employee was getting verbally abused. Everyone commended him for taking it and not firing back. But his rights and dignity don’t go away as a cashier. He could/should have been assertive. “Ma’am, this is verbal abuse, and I’m not going to listen anymore. Please leave.”
    It’s a tough call, though.

    • Dewey,

      Youre so right, there are definitely those times in our life when we DO need to stand up for ourselves…..figuring out when we need to stand up and when we need to walk away is the key 🙂

  4. After this profound statement I felt enough had been written, “don’t we need more people to begin living lives based on grace, forgiveness, and love?” Wow! I have been molding over the same sentiments myself. Kenneth, it really does seem there is a shortage on forgiveness and love. When I voiced my thoughts to an older friend of mine he said, “Parents are treating children like by products.” And he went on to express that it is the actions of parents that is causing people to have less tolerance for the shortcoming of others. Great post! Have a grand day!

  5. Well, I find your attitude very positive. By 50 percent. A 100 percent positive attitude would have been to buy him a box 🙂
    Excellent post!

  6. I think you are moving in a positive direction, don’t fight it or question it so much, it’s all good. You are touching on really important topics daily and I think you are getting closer to truly understanding what it really is all about, love and grace.

  7. A lot has changed from the times when we felt we had to EARN respect from others, but were polite to everyone. Today we seem to feel entitled to respect from everyone around us without having to offer any back. I have heard many angry young people talk about being “disrespected” by the most trivial actions of those around them, and of having to “do something” in response. It makes me think of the old English Code of Honor among the aristocracy that led to duels – and deaths. Or the Asian concept of “saving face”. Neither of these things led to happiness for any of the participants. How can we get back to a national attitude of civility and tolerance toward others? Was there ever really a time like that? I think when day-to-day life was more of a struggle and you needed the help of your neighbors just to get by (think subsistence farming or hunting/gathering) it was more important to get along, so people were more careful about their interactions. Today, if you need help you get it from the faceless and distant government (food stamps, welfare checks, SSI disability, etc.). The struggle to survive is lessened, but there’s no clear understanding that it is still your neighbors helping you. And if you don’t need help yourself, there can be the perception that you’re not in control of your own charity – that some are getting it whom you would not personally want to support. The Culture Monk’s notion of grace and forgiveness is on the money. As each individual practices that, perhaps it will spread.

  8. I think you should start
    I wouldn’t waste my breath with guy like him, cussing back wouldn’t fix no one’s problem.
    A house is made of walls and beams, a home is made of Love and Dreams!
    Too much hate and anger around us 😦
    Kenneth, you are soft or have a huge heart😊

  9. Hmm.. I’m wondering if the guy mistook you for someone he had seen smoking. Doesn’t excuse the rudeness, of course, but that’s us these days.

  10. I think your response to the Man showed extraordinary discernment, self control, and wisdom. Cursing back at him would have been the basic, carnal thing to do.

    You pick your battles and as you saw this Dude you may have realized that he had it much worse than you. How does the saying go “Hurt people, hurt people.” So that dude was on a low…no need to go to that level (and there is no pun intended in light of his condition).

    It’s funny, I had similar thoughts this week about grace and how folks in this country seem to be operating with little of it considering the grace we’ve been afforded. Maybe more folks thinking and acting as you will usher in the revival of grace. We certainly can use it.

  11. Hi Kenneth, I am in a traffic queue and an elderly man is waiting to cross the road, so I wait a little, but the driver behind me sounds his horn in anger. We just drive or walk away! No problem with that.

    Yes, you did the right thing. Don’t want to escalate the situation. Smoking is a vicious circle, being disabled is awful and keeps one inside the poverty trap. No question, the right thing is to walk away. I suppose if you hadn’t been slightly in shock you could have got him a cigarette, but that would have been saintly on your part. Great writing, Kenneth!

  12. As far as celebrities and politicians, I no longer put myself in a position to turn on the Boob Tube and kill what little Zen I’ve managed to produce in any given day…I simply dropped my cable package.

    I am glad I came across this post because it’s such a great reminder of which path I’m trying to take (even if feebly, at least for now).

  13. The guy is outwardly showing what most show inwardly . . . huge amounts of frustration, angst, anger, hatred towards their circumstance . . . and the beat goes on as we all dance upon the powder keg. . .

    you want to turn your cheek for that dude who just thought it would be fun to play ‘knock out’ and sucker punch you? . . . not me

  14. ahhh, brought back distant memory of another lifetime where “smoke ’em if you got ’em” was an invitation to take a break from the otherwise military dissatisfaction, and swearing was an expected dialect. wonderful you stayed at ease.

  15. The Mother Theresa’s, etc. . . still exist. I see some of them every day. Unfortunately, the people who control many of our information sources don’t feel that they are worth fussing over. It’s up to “the-man-in-street” bring the ones we find to light!

  16. You did the right thing – far stronger in your restraint than I could ever have been. Good thoughts and a good post. Peace . . .

  17. Some interesting responses to your blog this morning! Not too long ago I would have been angry at the situation that you described–now I try to begin by putting myself in their place, as well as not promoting my own person in comparison. It’s too easy to do.
    This whole world is in need of outreach; some ways work better than others. I have found that less finger pointing (unless it illustrates the point) and a more loving approach settles a person into the right mind to listen, rather than accusation that drives them to close their ears before the conversation has even started.
    I have used both approaches, but remain convinced that by showing grace, God’s grace is more believable.

    Have a great Saturday Mr Monk! 😛

  18. Taken out by a random dude. In a wheelchair. Over smokes. I make that an Enlightened One Fail. Bummer!! My search for New Improved KenGhandi continues …

  19. What if you replied back and saw the guy standing and walking and fighting? I’m just saying…it could be possible. Here…some of the beggers are faking a handicap…just to impress more. If you give money…they say “God bless you” if not they can cuss you. I don’t know…

    And I’m getting more positive energy from your blog, keep writing Kenneth.

  20. power to you for taking a negative situation and not responding in the same way. That would have been easy but you walked away and let it roll off you.

  21. Good for you – trying is more than half the battle. Now if we all would at least try…

  22. Ken, remembered someone said “It is much greater to conquer oneself than a city. “Somewhat like that. Self-control is just priceless, and something you can really treasure and benefit from. We will fall flat on our face one of this days, but we’ll always learn from it and get even stronger. .. Thanks much for this..

  23. Demonstration of true compassion, bravo.

  24. If I smoked, I’d bet a carton of cigarettes that the guy who cussed you out has played out that scene at least one hundred times over the last year.
    In any case, I used the grace tactic at the post office this afternoon. Where I expected to be treated badly, I just smiled sweetly. Not only did I receive unexpectedly friendly service, but I also swear I could have gotten his number if I’d asked for it. It was an awesome afternoon.

  25. Thank-you for your post!

  26. I love this post!! It’s so important to try & spread peace & love! Kindness is infectious in the same way anger can be…. I know what I would rather pass on!! I try not to hate because its so negative but it really irritates me that as a culture we idolise self centred, vain celebrities… Good role models are hard to come by!! Stay happy 😊xxx

  27. I just love your pure and honest writing. Everyday living is tough, but I completely agree with you that treating everyone with respect and not taking the bait was the appropriate response. And I also do believe that there are more people out there than you think who are quietly doing their work to make the world a better place, one interaction at a time. The key word is ‘quietly’. 😉 I don’t think these folks want the celebrity. They just want to do their best every day. We are not all saints and shouldn’t expect to be. But an act of kindness goes a long way, often without our even knowing the effects of our positive actions towards others. The web of connection is more intricate that we can ever imagine. Namaste.

    • “And I also do believe that there are more people out there than you think who are quietly doing their work to make the world a better place, one interaction at a time. ”

      youre probably right 🙂

  28. Thanks Kenneth, Its a simple idea but being kind is by far the best option every time. Be like John Lennon. Today a guy in a family restaurant called me Jesus Christ, out of pure mischief I guess. What was my first reaction? Of course I wanted to follow up with some sarcastic remark, how dare he comment on my appearance..I have a beard. But my brain said no, leave it, besides he could have called me worse, so I just smiled in a kind, sincere, loving manner, and walked on. Nothing for him to do but return to his chocolate pudding. No harm. Keep up the love my friend, be strong.

  29. I love your way of writing, as if we met just as you were ieaving the cafe, and you had to tell somebody what you just experienced. I basically think that is what we are supposed to do to make life better, to stop and refelct together, was that a good way of handling it, should we do it this way the next time? This kind of honest reflection is what makes us grow as humans.

  30. Thanks for liking my latest post. I like your writing, it is very thought provoking. I look forward to reading more!

  31. Just received a like from you (thankyou!) and thought I’d give you a browse. I honestly didn’t expect this level of writing! some really nice pieces on here. It’s quite refreshing to get different views on these subjects!

  32. He was probably broke and pissed and had a bad day so he took it out on you. I’ve had people do that to me. It isn’t about me or you, it’s about him and his bad day. I used to work on social service – worked with the homeless, addicts, alcoholics, abusers of various kinds, ran a homeless shelter, etc. Unless I have really been a screw up in some way it is never personal and it’s never about me. Nicotine is a worse monkey to have on your back than opiates. Go to any NA or AA meeting and people are smoking up a storm. They may be clean and sober for 30 years but they mainline coffee and smoke like smokestacks. All we can do is let it blow past, have what compassion we can muster and meet the rest of the day.

  33. Wow. I have to applaud you for not havibg responded to that man! A lesser man might have allowed an argument to ensue, without ever having stopped to ask, “Is this even worth it?” I agree that so many people out there have forgotten how far one can go when he thinks about others, and instead many believe that stopping to help others only slows one down. I often think about this myself. I’ve kind of come to the conclusion that this whole concept of “moral relativism” has poisoned a lot of society. Everyone seems to think that this idea of “to each his own” gives them license to basically do whatever they want without having to worry too much about how it might make others feel. After all, according to that logic, “if it’s okay in my eyes, then I shouldn’t have to change it for anyone.” People like Mother Theresa and Gandhi seemed to have operated under the reverse assumption: that everything we do effects those around us, and so we must be conscious of our choices if we want to be part of the solution.

    Great post, thanks for the great thoughts!

  34. Hi Kenneth,
    I’ve been reading your posts for the last week and I just wanted to let you know I thought they were really interesting and thought provoking. I hope you have a large audience and people read these posts and maybe act a little differently.
    Thanks for posting stuff like this.

  35. Kenneth – I couldn’t agree more about needing more love in this world! The fact that people are becoming hardened and unfeeling is what continues to make this world so icky. No I don’t feel that enabling people and their bad habits is a good idea, but that’s different than showing love and grace. A hand up is a lot different than a hand out. I would point out that Kim Kardashian really proved me wrong… that woman is holding an auction of really high priced items so she can donate a whopping 10 percent of the proceeds (the rest she keeps) to typhoon relief in the Philippines (there’s no sarcasm in that sentence *rolls eyes*). Yeah that’s not a donation, that’s a tax write off. Yet, on the other hand there are some celebrities and athletes who really do do genuine good and have organizations that we don’t always hear about. I do agree though that we don’t hear about those who are good through and through but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. They’re probably flying under the radar or maybe they’re just doing acts of kindness one small bit at a time. I do hear and read some really amazing stories of people doing the right thing for the right reason so there’s hope. 🙂

  36. Love it. The true hypocrisy exhibited here considering your one and only visit (so far) to ”Elucidations” was a steaming, hate-filled rant!
    A real piece of work….

  37. Here’s another post you might enjoy. I wholeheartedly recommend all of John Zande’s post in actual fact.

  38. You really are struggling to come to terms with different points view, are you not?

    Maybe you are just not ready to come to terms with the fact that your religion is all based on make believe?
    I’m surprised that with all those books you read by the time you were 19 that you didn’t encounter one that explained the truth of the old testament?
    Or did your reading list not include proper educational material that might shatter your fragile ego?
    You really ought to get out and about , Mister monk. The world contains so many more interesting things besides silly stories about smelly Ist century eschatological jewish rabbis.

    • “….don’t we need more people to begin living lives based on grace, forgiveness, and love?” Yes, we do. And wouldn’t this beautiful planet be so much better if the inhabitants could only do that? How hard is it? An AA slogan, “Live and Let Live” is something I try, however not always with success, to remember.
      Thanks for your likes….
      Love your stuff.

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