Photo by Chi Pham on Unsplash. (Everyone would be happier if there were 12 more daffodils here. Call the bi-law officer.)

Open letter to the otherwise stable-looking woman in Victoria who yelled at me that I was selfish for picking daffodils in Beacon Hill Park

A call-to-action to judge less, assume the best of each other, and dare to have better conversations

There are generally two kinds of adults in the world: those with super dogmatic morals and ethics and those who graduated from their dogmatism with the ability to think for themselves and quickly pivot their position depending on the specifics of the scenario. James Fowler has a theory of faith that I think also describes thought evolution. You might be in Stage Three. I’m in Stage Five. You don’t understand me. I get it. I used to be you. I was still a good person (I was just a lot less nice to be around).

  1. Your reasoning is illogical. There are a few potential logical fallacies you’ve made here. The Slippery Slope Fallacy and Bandwagon Fallacy, maybe? Basically, the “what if everyone started doing this?” false scenario that never happens. You told me the flowers are for everyone to enjoy. Do you really think that you would have walked by and noticed there were twelve fewer daffodils amongst hundreds just in that one location? Are you upset or deprived that we don’t have even more daffodils in Victoria? Do you have any idea how many people would have to pick daffodils regularly for us to run out of daffodils? There are literally probably about 100 billion flowers in greater Victoria. There are almost 46 billion just in Saanich alone. I’m not interested in math enough to figure out how incredibly unlikely it is that we will ever have a mass daffodil-picking social problem but I can assure you that the moment we do, I will not pick any because I can make different decisions any time I want! I can change my perspective when the situation changes. I am like a 9-year-old in jazz dance class: I pivot. I try not to box myself into corners where I have to eat my words. I don’t own a t-shirt that says, “It’s always okay for all of us to pick all the flowers on Crown land we pay for with our taxes.” Can you imagine how embarrassed I’d be if everyone then started doing it and then all the flowers disappeared and we were all so sad and we had to wait a whole year to revise our approach to flowers so that we can enjoy them again? SO sad. And I’d stop wearing that t-shirt. I picked 12 flowers at the end of daffodil season and it’s the first time all year I’ve picked ONE public flower. Because tomorrow is my 40th birthday, the birthday I’ve been looking forward to since I was 12, and it’s going to be a semi-lonely, Covid-19 sponsored birthday, and I wanted some flowers to brighten my day. And I’d want that for anyone else, too.
  2. Even if I am selfish, do you think maybe there are some good reasons for that? Like, what if some of my most basic needs were not met during my childhood and I’ve suffered a lot since and so I feel entitled to 12 public daffodils once a year? I am not a selfish person or an entitled person but sometimes I can be a little bit selfish and a little bit entitled in my behaviour. I’m at peace with that. If we want to have a debate about what is fair, one possible argument that could be made is that it’s fair for someone who had a hard life to be more entitled to free daffodils than someone who has had a privileged life. I’m not making that argument because I don’t believe in keeping score for The Oppression Olympics, but it’s just as worthy a perspective as your own. When people feel entitled, it’s as a consequence from living. That’s human psychology. There are always good reasons for why people are the way they are.

Ex-Mormon queer feminist trauma-informed writer. Embracing complexity, nuance, slow conflict, unknowing, non-judgment, love. natashacoulis@gmail.com