It all starts with the little things, within each individual. Little things pile on top of each other until they become big things. Take for example, the situation of Olena Panfilova’s unlicensed daycare in Vaughan, which she had co-owned with her husband Ruslan Panvilova and her daughter Karyna Rabadanova. It hadn’t started out overcrowded and filthy. The population and filth accumulated over time and no one took responsibility for moderating either. She’s now being charged with manslaughter for the death of a toddler whose parents had entrusted to Olena Panfilova’s daycare. As an unlicensed daycare, hers was permitted only five young children under the age of ten. Olena Panfilova’s daycare had 27 children at the time of the toddler’s death! The daycare was also described to have dirty cribs, dirty diapers in the kitchen, rotting food in the fridge, etc. It was without a doubt, overcrowded and filthy, and had inadequate supervision and care for the 27 youngsters. Olena Panfilova even had a pick up and drop off service so the parents remained none-the-wiser to the horrible situation. Neglecting the little things is never a great idea because they may haunt you later as unwanted big things. This is not only applicable to your physical surroundings but also applies to your mental and spiritual conditions as well. For example, don’t ignore negative emotions such as depression, apathy, hopelessness, sadness, anger, etc., but acknowledge it and deal with it one by one. Take personal responsibility for it. The more undealt with issues you have, the more those issues are likely to come out in your actions and ultimately your results. Probably, at times, as a human being, Olena Panfilova experienced stress and depression thinking about her overcrowded and filthy daycare as well as the fact that it was illegally operating, but she didn’t care enough for her customers or take pride in herself enough to do anything about it – she swept up her feelings under a rug along with the dirt (if she bothered to do that at all). If she had acknowledged her feelings, “I feel stressed and depressed because this place is overcrowded and disgusting,” she may have done something good about it. Unfortunately, she didn’t want to deal with the “little things” (that first layer of dirt and the first pang of stress she must have felt at some point(s) in time from the increasingly dirty and populated environment, which were also increasing her chances of being discovered by the law) because she lacked the foresight to see the bigger consequences. Is it possible that the only thing of real impact on her was the dollar signs in her mind? But no amount of money should ever be placed on human life.
Inadvertently, criminals seem to instinctively do this in the perpetration of their crimes. For example, Tariq Mohammed in 2014 was tragically murdered for $4000 worth of gold chains. $4000 was the amount the murderers instinctively believed a human being’s life was worth. Other lives were valued at even less. Recently, Zaher (Zack) Noureddine, a journalist, was killed during a violent robbery that took place in December 2015 and the amount taken wasn’t even noted. Police are searching for three suspects in his case. Mark Ernsting, a biomedical engineer, was recently murdered during a violent robbery and he had left his wallet at home. Calvin Michael Nimoh, is charged with first-degree murder. While Olena Panfilova didn’t outright place an amount of money on the baby’s life by robbing and murdering; however, when the baby died, she effectively had done so. The baby’s life was worth to her, the amount of money she wasn’t willing to lose in membership fees (to have the daycare less populated) and cleaning costs. What right does anyone have (purposely or inadvertently) to assess the value, monetary or otherwise, of another human being’s life? We all have the right to make choices, both good and bad. Life is just a long a series of decisions made.
When you ignore little things, they tend to become big things. The hoarder only started with a few items. The 1000-pound person didn’t start out obese. Serial killers often started out torturing animals. Even before they started torturing animals, they might have been playing with matches, compulsively lying, or any number of things that are relatively “light.” Of course, not everyone will experience the same “big things,” but continue to ignore the little things and you will experience your version of a “big thing.” If you’re a parent and you see or hear about heinous behavior in your children, get professional intervention in the form of counseling, pastoral care, or even police if necessary.
Practical Steps for Anyone
How do you pay attention to the little things sufficiently in order to prevent disaster from occurring in your life? I think there’s three stages to it: “Prevention,” “intervention,” and “rehabilitation.” I liken these stages to the experience of catching a cold. Before you catch a cold, certain conditions are in place. It may be very cold outside for example. As a responsible individual, you’ll make sure to bundle up and protect yourself from the chill to help prevent getting a cold. The second stage involves recognizing the symptoms and taking steps to ensure your cold doesn’t get worse. Steps like getting adequate sleep, bundling up, drinking lots of hot water, eating healthy, etc. The third stage is where you’ve fallen very ill and are nursing yourself back to health. You don’t have a choice but to start taking better care of yourself. Even here, people are more or less sincere in their efforts. In applying these scenarios to the notion of personal responsibility in general, the first stage means acknowledging the conditions in place in your life. That could be respecting your budget, the amount of energy you have for socializing, balancing your responsibilities, etc. Acknowledging and respecting the conditions in your life means it’ll be easier to recognize and say no to temptation that may encourage you to go outside your comfort zone in a bad way. For example, if you’re not so aware of your schedule it’ll be easy to double-book yourself. If you’re not aware of your budget, it’ll be easier to get into debt. So, first, you need to know the conditions in your life and have respect for your boundaries and priorities. Second, if you haven’t taken necessary preventative measures and begin to notice symptoms such as confusion, exhaustion, etc., you need to figure out the source of the problem and nip it in the bud. For example, spending outside of your budget can induce the symptom of stress. When you recognize that overspending is the reason for your stress then active steps can be taken to reduce spending and pay back the loan. It’s important to always revisit the first step and acknowledge your conditions and boundaries. Thirdly, if the first and second steps have been overlooked for a while and the result is you’re steeped in a big mess, you need to take the steps required to bring your situation back to health. It might be a long painful process, but it’s absolutely necessary. Step three means realizing all the places you went wrong and doing what it takes, in a moral and legal manner, to make it right. It means peeling back the layers until you can recognize your real condition and true boundaries and priorities, and then choose to have respect for them.
I don’t think anyone is immune to experiencing the downward spiral, but the resulting mess is cleaner or messier for some depending on how good they are at instinctively acknowledging and respecting their condition and boundaries. Pay attention to the “little things” in your life and acknowledge and respect your condition and boundaries, and you’re much less likely to experience the downward spiral that may result in you doing things you’ll never forgive yourself for. For example, had Olena Panfilova recognized her real condition and boundaries and had respect for them, the tragedy of the death of Eva Ravikovich would never have occurred. Unfortunately, though Olena Panfilova was in the business of caring for children, ultimately it seemed that money prevented her from seeing and respecting her true condition and boundaries, which then seemed to take precedence even over the well-being of the children under her care. It seemed that so long as she could get away with it, she would remain overpopulated, understaffed, and not bother to hire sufficient cleaning staff to make the place fit for small children, or human beings in general. Unfortunately, it would take the death of an innocent young girl, Eva Ravikovich, for her to come full circle and acknowledge her true condition and boundaries, if she’s ever willing to.