One of my favorite routes for a long walk is on the street past this house on top of the hill that has playground equipment for children and Halloween pumpkins decorating the yard. I have seen this family’s children, two or three of them, playing in the yard.

One day I noted that the folks who live in that house had a lawn sign out in front. The sign had an image of Martin Luther King, Jr., on it and the message on it was something like, “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do this.” A few days later I saw the young dad in the yard while I walked by and stopped and told him I liked his sign. “Thank you,” he smiled. “We should have more of them.”

About a week later I walked past the house again and the sign was gone. I asked the guy what had become of the sign. He shrugged with a discouraged look on his face. “Somebody stole it,” he said, “but I think I know something about the thief.”

As I continued on my walk, I decided I know something about the thief, too: He (or she) is a sneak. The sign wasn’t taken in broad daylight. The thief was not only a sneak, but a coward – not enough courage to stop and express his disagreement with the message. Just took it in the middle of the night. He is personally insecure. He sees somebody bold enough to express a positive point of view, and lacking boldness, and a positive opinion of himself, he strikes out at someone else who is bold and positive. Also, I expect the sneak is a braggart. Most sneaks who think they’ve done something clever are braggarts. They want someone to know how bold they are. The jails are full of braggarts. But if he has children, I’m sure he’s not bragging to his children about the sneaky cheap trick he’s pulled.

On the subject of children, I wonder what the owner of the sign told his children about the sneak who stole their sign. Any lessons there?

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The sign, by the way, was not a political sign. It didn’t say who to vote for or against or who’s political party to support. It has a message for everyone, a message this divided nation urgently needs to hear. But I’m sure the sneak didn’t put the sign in his own yard. If he had a sign that honestly expressed what he stands for, his message for his neighbors would be “Love? − I prefer hate – Have a nice day.”