• “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Suess

Saturday, February 26, 2011


The neighborhood thinks my yard is a shortcut.

A beaten path runs between us and the house next door.
Nothing stops the flow of traffic:
foot traffic, bicycles, baby strollers, you name it!
We ask - politely and firmly - they ignore.

When we are in the yard, out and about, most trespassers will at least walk along the other side of the house next door.  They know they are trespassing. They know they shouldn't ...
The neighboring house doesn't seem to be able to stop them either - they have a matching path on both sides of the house.

When trespassers think no one is looking (and even at times, brazenly knowing someone is) they do what they know is not right.  You can tell they know as they glance furtively about, duck their heads, avert their eyes, pretend deafness and to be looking ... somewhere, anywhere until they are past property lines and back on public sidewalks.

Landscaping and flowers don't stand a chance against the continued assault. Not even Irises lift a barrier or withstand the constant pounding. Neither do simple fences.

We put a simple wire fence along the back to break the pattern.  It is constantly sagging from those that don't leap it but have to lean on it as they cross. We continue to straighten and support it.  It at least diminishes the flow and makes vehicular traffic more difficult - not impossible - just awkward as the bikes and buggies have to be lifted over it and so those go the few extra steps it takes to use the neighbors unfenced yard.

My husband and I debate fences.  Are they junk and weed collectors and more work than they are worth? Or do they actually provide security for ourselves physically in some ways and morally for the careless and thoughtless misusing the property and time of others.

There is a boy, and his friends, that regularly 'get away with' using my yard as a shortcut.  I work at being kind to them and helping them learn honesty and consideration.  I have paid them for small bits of yard work when they come around asking for work.  I have given them flowers for their mothers, and fruit in season and explained the damages that 'the short cut' causes. They have promised to stop walking through - but there is no fence, and 'everyone else does it" so they often break their promise.

I hesitate to really trust them much.  Even thought I know they are young and wonder if they are properly schooled I hesitate - this year I may not hire them.  They are not young men that keep their word.  I will attempt to find help that is 'honest'. Breaking their word mostly hurts themselves.

As I age I need more and more help with the yard.  If those boys could show good faith and continued efforts to keep their promises, then, when they asked for work, I would be sure to hire them and maybe even make work for them or recommend them to friends and other neighbors. As it is I am unable to provide a reference for them to anyone.

When they come again I will teach them more about honesty. I may explain that I expect them to keep their promises and that it helps me to know if they are honest and can be trusted and 'hired'. Good kindness (and money) often helps to open ears - and make a pathways into hearts and at times even souls.

My father taught us to be honest, in every way, at all times.
Especially when no one is watching.

He taught that honesty is first for ourself. When we are honest we know within ourself the strength and power of choice - we know we have self control, diligence, and kind respect for ourselves and for others.

My father taught us that God also sees. This was not a threat - just an additional loving reminder of the blessings of knowing, and having, the love and respect of our Heavenly Father who knows not only our acts but our hearts even when our earthy father (or mother) may not.

The 13th Article of Faith begins with, "We believe in being honest, ..." and then adds what I consider synonyms for honesty within specific contexts "... true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men, ...."

My father jokingly claimed that locks were to keep honest  people honest - I have often pondered and thought about that - about how even very honest people think nothing of a small dishonesty when the opportunity presents itself. They seem to just not think. Locks and fences may present the needed barriers to help us remember we are honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous and kind to those about us.

A well worn saying states that 'it is easier to get forgiveness than permission'. President Ezra Taft Benson explained "It is better to prepare and prevent than it is to repair and repent."  

If money (or an object) lies on the ground do I pick it up? Keep it? Try to find the owner? or leave it lay so the owner may be able to retrace their steps and find that which was lost? I can choose the best option for each situation and experience (mine and that of others who can advise me) helps me to know what choice is good, better or best.

What locks and fences do you have in your life?

What locks and fences do I have in mine?

One of mine is being 100% honest (and a bit more if possible) with God - keeping my actions aligned with my innermost beliefs. This includes not only vigilant efforts to tell the truth and not cheat in small ways (like speeding just a little bit even) but of paying an honest tithe, fast offering and making other donations as much as possible for the betterment and assistance of my fellowmen. Heber J. Grant taught Malachi 3:8-18 as a law of prosperity (and successful happiness) to Latter Day Saints. He said,

"I believe that people are blessed in proportion to their liberality. I am not saying that they always make more dollars, perhaps, than the other man. But so far as an increase in the faith and in the testimony and the knowledge of the divinity of the work in which we are engaged, men that are honest with the Lord in the payment of their tithing grow as men never grow that are not honest. There is no question in my mind. Moreover, I am just foolish enough to believe that the Lord magnifies those who do pay their tithing and that they are more prosperous, on the average, than the men who do not. I believe that to those who are liberal [with their donations] the Lord gives ideas, and they grow in capacity and ability more rapidly than those that are stingy. I have that faith, and I have had it from the time I was a boy." 
Each of us must place fences, and locks as needed, on our own ideas and behaviors. 
It keeps us HONEST!
And true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous and genuinely kind.
And full of hope too.
Honesty increases our power.
It increases our abilities to act -
to honor and help,
to love and lift
and to teach and train.

It increases our power to have and to GIVE hope.