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In the ordinary course of things, how many succeed in society merely by virtues of their manners, while others however meritorious fail through lack of them? After all it’s only barbarians that wear uncut precious stones.

– Philip Dormer Stanhope Chesterfield, 4th Earl

Sometimes a stranger leaves an object behind that says more about them than you care to know. Like today when I walked up to my car in a strip mall parking lot surrounded by searing heat and found, not a piece of gum, mind you, or a tossed drink, but half of a smoking cigarette butt on the broken pavement just to the left of my car door. Obviously, the guilty party had just been in that space. I felt invaded. How dare someone toss that next to my car, so I have to maneuver my way to get in my vehicle?

I had that territorial human impulse of wanting to find whomever had done this and hold him (or her) accountable. So I turned and looked back at the strip mall. There was no one in sight.

“At least drop your cigarette where someone doesn’t have to step,” I wanted to shout out. But I realized that would be a useless undertaking, for whoever had left this butt smoldering was a person who fundamentally lacks respect for others. The same person that would let their discarded drink ooze under someone else’s car or would toss his gum even when there’s a garbage can at the ready.

People who trash space others share fundamentally lack basic courtesy and live their lives angry at the world. They don’t want to make friends, just enemies. And here was a symbolic reminder of that laid out for anyone passing by to see.

I tiptoed carefully around the burning butt and vaulted into my car. As I started the engine, the smell of smoke wafted in and up through my nostrils. How many butts has this person tossed onto someone else’s turf? I wondered. My guess is that he or she has tossed more than fiery butts into the world, done more harm than good, created more darkness than light.cb077aa2697aad3b3896a9df170a0fc8