What I Learned Today

Today I learned that you should never make a lengthy trip to the DMV, run a bunch of errands, clean out your car, and completely revamp your web site in one day. Then you may stay up way past your bed time like I’m doing right now. And speaking of errands . . .

While in Bennington today I saw and then heard an altercation where a young woman almost ran a man over with her car. He seemed nice enough just strolling along with his little canvas bag. Once the brakes screeched and he stopped dead in his tracks to avoid the car zooming out of the drive through teller toward the sidewalk, he let loose a string of profanity.

She gave it back, mostly recycling the same words and probably saying something about watching where he’s going. Being clearly in the wrong though, she seemed to bow to his escalading torrent of f-this and f-that. It was kind of depressing.

Here we are, beloved creatures of God all scurrying about on our way. When someone messes up, we tear into him or her. The goal suddenly becomes belittling the other person, winning the fight, and making the other person feel lousy. He could have yelled, he could have reprimanded her, but he didn’t stop there. He became abusive and spiteful, just trying to hurt.

She didn’t help. She could have said, “My bad, I’m sorry.” Yet, she tried to fight him back, trying to save face somehow and abusing him in return.

No one made an effort to communicate. The English language was a by-stander like myself for this exchange.

In the end, no one won. He became lost in his fury, consumed with anger and she became defensive and furious. There is no doubt that the man’s words had some effect. It almost hurt me to hear it.

And so my question after this is: “Why attack others when they come close to hurting us?” I have felt this on numerous occasions while on the road. I become defensive and think angry thoughts and even want to yell something or find another way to express my rage.

There has to be something to our own designs for perfection. Abusing and chastising others for their own failures, especially when we feel threatened may be a way to make us feel superior.

And yet, how should we react when the car is zooming up to the sidewalk and we are in danger? I can’t help but relate with the man. I would be angry too. But is there a humble and redemptive way forward even in the rush and hum of every day life?