Tired, ready to be home and traffic is, of course, heavy. I’m in a left-hand turn lanea double turn lane actually. It is a huge intersection and a very busy main artery. Another driver realizes they need to turn left. They of course stop in the through lane. They simply stop! This naturally makes all those in that lane, wishing to go through, very angry. But the person refuses to go straight and causes a back up. Noticing this unfolding, the car at the head of the turn lane scoots forward as do the following cars trying to allow room for the car to enter the turn lane and relieve the angry traffic jam that is occurring.
The space created, the driver in the car next to me decides that the driver in the car that wishes to turn left, will not be allowed in front of them. They actually shake their head and mouth “NO” to the other driver as they close the open space with the other car’s front tire just trying to get into the turn lane. Seriously, I tell you, I am dumbfounded. I can’t believe it. Really, did you just do that? Horns are blaring, drivers are cursing. The complete disregard for all those other drivers actually makes me mad. I want to pull out my Captain Justice cape and swoop down on the situation and administer the just punishment. The simple act of letting someone get ahead of youone car that could help alleviate what is becoming potentially dangerousdoesn’t seem that hard to do. How selfish or hard can someone be? What is this country coming to? Snap! I sound just like my grandmother. I better watch it or the dreaded they will start coming. You know, “they say,” “they found,” the they that apparently knows more than you or I.
For just measure, my first inclination is to get in front of the perpetrator next to me and slow to a snail’s pace. “I’ll show you” I think. “We don’t do that round these parts partner,” I say drawl and all. Clearly superior in soooo many ways, I decide not to do something stupid. I turn and speed off with a dismissive eye roll, “idiot” implied without being said.
I seriously question the effectiveness of the licensing process, stunned day after day at the antics of drivers. I understand road rage, I really do: “Mad as heck and not going to take it anymore.” Something snaps and personal justice takes over. The desire to punish becomes central. Justice sounds good as a motive but in reality it’s control and ego-driven superiority. It’s anger.
Humans can be extremely stupid. I know because I’ve done some really dumb things. It’s the response to this crazy world that drives harmony or discord personally and communally. So my mind wonders and thinks about how different things would be if we all thought of our neighbors as ourselves. I rationalize the impossibility and therefore let myself off the hook of this commandment. I mean if we all aren’t going to do it then I’m not either. I’m king of comparing out. Believe me, I have a laundry list of character defects, but rather than giving them over to God, I frequently allow myself brief interludes of blissful superiority by believing others’ defects are far worse than mine. They of course have nothing to do with each other.
Jesus wasn’t kidding when he said you have to take up your cross daily. He said I am supposed to say no to myself. That is a tall order. After all, I’m by and large my biggest fan. That nagging anger, disappointment in others, self-importance, or the opposite, self-loathing is the life I must choose to lose so that I may gain one centered in Christ. Centered in love and patiencewho doesn’t want that? What I’m really dumbfounded about is how often I find myself not living this out. So I’m at this point where I feel I need to recommit myself. I feel like it is ominous, big and daunting.
So my dear friend says to me, “Do you know what the Buddhists say when you stray off the path?” “No what?” I ask. “Get back on the path,” he says. Get back on the path?! I’m a little disappointed. I was hoping for a really deep, thoughtful life-altering thought, which ironically is what I got. Can you imagine what I could think about and accomplish if my commute was even longer?