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  • Writer's pictureKirk

Sweeping our own Step

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

I wrote about the size of the world we live. How the size doesn’t really matter, because even if we expand it through travel it never satisfies. The more important issue is to be satisfied in the world you live. To learn to live well in the space you occupy.

I also spoke to the advice of a preacher man who advised we “sweep our own step”. But in reflection I believe I never addressed this properly. What does it mean to do this? More importantly how can it be done? I’ll address this through personal travel examples and relay an incident I had in Tokyo, Japan to further clarify.

When traveling there are some common things we can do. I'll draw on a previous post ( in reference.

We should become knowledgeable of the customs of the people we may come in contact. Part of the sweeping for me, is to act respectfully wherever I go (including never putting my feet up on the bulkhead seat!). Be conscious of your surroundings and try not to offend.

But I'd like to draw on a practical example I experienced in Tokyo. I don't mean to relay this experience to "toot my own horn", because there is no horn to toot. It is something almost every reader of this post would do if they were in my shoes. It's common to many of us, but not to all.

The Tokyo metro system consists of buses and subways. It's extremely efficient but can get quite crowded.

Exaggerated image

One day I stood in the queue to board and I witnessed the mad rush to compete to get a limited seat on the train. Not adverse to standing up I did not participate in the race. But I noticed there were several others who could not compete. Elderly ladies and a woman holding a baby could not participate in this melee and were also left standing.

I thought of the Bible story of the crippled man at the pool of Bethesda. How he could not compete to receive healing when the waters were troubled as everyone shot past him. I thought, this is the modern day Bethesda example!

It didn't take long for me to catch on. The next subway train I entered I was ready. I took off when those doors opened and grabbed a seat as quickly as possible against the competition of the young and fit. Then I waited. When the doors closed I sought out the most indigent of the elderly close by and asked her to take my seat. Taken aback by the gesture of a foreigner (I suppose) she refused. But I was insistent to the point she smiled and accepted. There! I had forced this lady to allow me to sweep my step. How dare her deny me my broom! J/k

The next subway ride I did the same. But this time something changed. The lady accepted the seat without resistance, but something else happened. Another young Japanese man did the same. He gave his seat to an elderly man near him. The timing was such he did it after I had done it near him. Therefore I'm taking full credit for this act, in my post here anyway. 😀

I continued this practice on the buses as well. Occasionally others followed suit but usually not.

But undeterred I was going to sweep my step.

We never know the impact we have on people. It's easy to say it's a useless gesture. In a world where there are billions of dirty steps, what good is cleaning this one? But like the old story of thousands of washed up starfish on the shore, when the man was asked why bother throw one back in the ocean, what does it matter? The man replied, "it mattered to him!"

None of us will change the world. Most of us don't have the impact of a President or a congressman. But we can all be an ambassador in our world, no matter the size.

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Mike Wells
Mike Wells
Aug 08, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

The concept of being nice to people. Holding the door letting a lady go in front of you. Different little acts of kindness goes a long way. Always try to be kind to everyone

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