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Expecting the Unexpected

Adult fight breaks out in childrens amusement center

This Spring, we celebrated my daughter's birthday at one of those kids' entertainment centers -- no, we didn't do the big rat (it begins with "Chuck") this time -- and something truly shocking happened.

No one from our party was directly involved, thank goodness, but it began with a child getting his teeth knocked out by another kid at one of the video game areas.

That was bad enough, but one thing led to another and a fight broke out between the parents of the two children in the midst of dozens of children and parents using the facility for their own parties. People were running, everyone wanted to know what was going on, there were reports of injuries including a bloody mouth, and little children were in tears, looking for their parents. It was pandemonium!

The police came, people were escorted out with little resistance and things went back to normal relatively quickly. Kudos to the staff who did their best with a totally unexpected situation.

But it made me think of just how precarious our freedom to pursue happiness really is. I thought of people out, having a good time at a club or at a wedding, or on their way to school and work, expecting to have the freedom to enjoy their time without unreasonable risk to life and limb -- when something unexpected happens.

It doesn't have to be a terrorist bomb or a shooting rampage: it can be something as simple as someone losing their temper. Somebody presses someone's buttons and somebody snaps. There have been too many examples like that in the news lately and this one was a little too close to home.

I never thought I'd be yearning for George Bush Sr.'s "Kinder, Gentler" nation movement. But we all better start paying attention to who is around us and how one careless word might end up spelling m-a-y-h-e-m. or even m-u-r-d-e-r. Watch your kids, watch your mouth, watch your manners.

It's all a matter of cause and effect. If we can handle everyday problems like civilized, compassionate adults, the big problems may begin to take care of themselves. After all, if we can't practice safe society in our everyday lives, how can we expect our leaders to model it for us? Tsk.

Let's get out and do those acts of random kindness and commit senseless beauty. We can be nice people again! Do one good deed, have them pay it forward. Pass it on.   -- Cat (revised 18 October 2003)

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