The Flower

Not too long ago, I went on an outing with some friends to visit a zoo in Florida. My host just happened to work at the zoo and he was the person in charge of the landscaping. As we walked around on a beautiful day I admired the many areas where my friend had done a magnificent job of landscaping. Wonderful plants and flowers were carefully arranged to provide a colorful backdrop to the exhibits at the zoo.

 As we arrived at one of the exhibits, my friend pointed out an area where he and his crew had just finished planting a very large area of gorgeous flowers that bordered the walkways. The hundreds of flowers were carefully placed in rows and Iím sure when they reach full maturity it will be a stunning garden. There was a family nearby including a small girl of about six or seven years old. My friend noticed the little girl going into the flower bed and picking a flower. He very nicely explained to her that if she didnít pick the flowers, everybody could enjoy them.  

 Now, I donít expect a small child to think of things like that. It is human nature for them to want to touch and hold pretty things. But I do think it is proper to explain to them, and they can understand, that there are things that donít belong to them and they should not take them. I think that it is proper to explain that after they take the flower, nobody else will ever get to see how beautiful it was and that if everybody took a flower there would not have been any for her to see. Very young children can easily learn to respect nature and be considerate of others. It just takes someone willing to take the time to explain it to them.

The thing that makes this story stay in my mind is that the little girlís parents became very indignant that my friend had told the little girl that she shouldnít pick the flowers. They basically told him that he should mind his own business (which in fact he was doing) and that he had no right to tell their little girl anything. It concerns me that this is the lesson too many parents are teaching their children these days. It says to the little girl ďYou are special and the rules donít apply to you. If you want it, take it and donít consider how it may affect anyone else.Ē So, the little girl took the flower and when someone very nicely tried to explain that other people would not be able to enjoy that flower as she had because it was now gone, she learned from her parents that she shouldnít listen to that advice and that it was OK to take the flower if she wanted it, even if it wasnít hers to take.

 So we walked on while the little girlís family continued making indignant comments about my friend. A short time later I saw the flower laying on the walkway, trampled and crushed, discarded by the little girl. It was just a flower. Plenty more where it came from.



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