quiet places postAt a recent event, I was standing with a friend when another person approached us and started chatting. Soon, the conversation turned into a hushed discussion about someone who wasn’t present but who needed some comeuppance. At this point, I decided to politely excuse myself and walk away, as I didn’t need nor want to know any details.

That’s when someone approached me and said, referring to the others’ conversation, “Don’t worry about them,” he said. “This stuff happens all the time, sometimes for a real reason and sometimes for nothing at all, so just make up your own mind. Give people a chance and don’t like or dislike someone just because the others do.”

Now, I’m not that old, but how do you hear someone younger than you say this without wanting to gush, “Oh, you’re so sweet!” I’m new to the scene, so he has no idea how much I make up my own mind and then tell the world about it, in my own way. But I got it together and thanked him, assured him that I know how to think for myself, and I told him that I appreciate his looking out.

Whether he believed me or not, he repeated, “Just make up your own mind.” (Still so sweet.)

I was blown away by the sweetness not in an effort to be condescending to his youth, truly. The thing is, he (and most all of us) has had plenty of time to learn these lessons for himself, even though he’s in his early twenties. And in his case, he not only learned the lessons, he saw a situation and felt compelled to speak up. I admire this ability in people.

I may not be the person shouting from the rooftops, but I’ll be on the roof, a little distance away, watching and learning from my own vantage point before I speak.

I’m also blown away by how well done it was. He didn’t go into a rant or a lecture, he didn’t tell me his whole life story, he didn’t swear up a storm, and he also didn’t just walk away. He approached, gently said his piece, and even gave me a chance to rebut, which of course, I didn’t need.

And all the while, a few feet away, the comeuppance conversation was still taking place by people older than this kid and certainly old enough to know better. And we can dwell on that, or we can find the good and quietly effect change.

The fact is that while the news is filled with worldwide atrocities, life in the quiet places is still being lived, still being learned, and there is still hope. Even without the cameras.

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing