Genetics, Upbringing, or What
By Bart Vogelzang

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to drive around in a quiet suburban neighborhood, enjoying my air conditioning and the sight of all the people enjoying the sunshine. One location inspired me to thinking about how people behave, and how we really don’t know about motivations, often even within ourselves.

In one yard I spotted two boys, one about 14 and the other maybe 10, each working away. Their yard looked immaculate to me, but there they were…the older one pushing a lawn mower back and forth, carefully making sure to miss nothing. Rather than looking like he hated it, he had an intense but happy look on his face, resembling somewhat that face kids will have on when they are working at doing a drawing or painting a picture. The younger one, I would assume a brother, sat on his haunches next to a small child-type wheelbarrow (not the play kind, just the smaller version of the real thing), and was pulling weeds out, and using a small rake-like handheld device to stir the soil into a nice loam. He too was raptly intent on the work he was doing.

Next door, in what I can only describe as a yard that looked like a version of my own carefully crafted gardening disarray, there were three boys, one about 12, the other two maybe 9 or 10. There was a long plastic lawn slide on the ground, water poured all over it, and there was much yelling and excitement. The two youngsters were using pails to throw water onto the older one, who, after running cheerily away from them, beaming with excitement, slid the whole distance of the water slide. Grabbing a hose, he started to chase the other two, who used the slide to get away, for about 10 seconds.

The last house, right on the corner, had a yard that was neat, but not overly so, and there was a large concrete porch, something some might call a stoop, and on the top of it sat a single guy. Maybe 15 at most, he sat there, doing nothing much except watching the activity at the other houses, while smoking a cigarette.

So what is it that made these boys behave so differently? Is it their upbringing? Maybe their genetics? Or is it all totally random in nature, a combination of everything in both their lives and their genetic background? I doubt if any of them could even answer that.

Regardless of what brings about their different behaviours, is it up to any one of us to praise or condemn anyone for who they are?