I saw this on a friend's social media timeline recently:
It made me laugh, I’ll admit that. It also made me ponder the duplicity of human personalities. Or am I wrong? Are there humans out there (who are being honest with themselves) who do not have opposing thoughts on similar topics from time to time?
Using the example above, some days I barely notice or care if someone else is using their turn signal or not.
Other days it irks me beyond reason.
The difference? Usually, it is due to my own patience meter: my mood, my circumstance, my level of busyness, my lateness, my poor planning, my current pain level (physical or emotional), etc.
Do I always use my turn signal? I think I do. I try to. I am not perfect. Stop judging me.
Oh. Hmmm. What if, despite my honest attempts to follow traffic laws of all sorts (including signal use)... What if I am the miscreant? When I turn it around like that, it feels different. If someone were to drive past me and flick me off or yell mean things pertaining to my use or non-use of my turn signal, how would I react?
I guess it depends on if I felt I was in the wrong or not. Was I behaving badly? Do I deserve a good telling off? Is it even the other driver’s obligation to notify me that they believe I am a bad driver?
There are so many situations where we are put into a similar position to react (or not react) to others’ (in our opinion) “bad” behavior. There are moral judgments being made all the time, all around you (and probably about you). These public evaluations of the rightness or wrongness of others’ behavior - are they a societal necessity?
I do sometimes find it difficult to restrain in commenting (whether silently or not) on (what I perceive as) bad behavior of other adults. Someone offends me - with words, on the road, with their beliefs, etc.... How do I react? Is it my first human instinct to be defensive and react rudely? Pass the blame?
I don’t always have the restraint I need at the time I need it. I know how I should respond.
I should exercise patience, kindness, and forgiveness, but sometimes I cannot help thinking...
Now, can I justify this line of thinking as a Christian? No. If I say more, I am trying to excuse myself. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop me from occasional jerkiness. I am reminded of this quote from a classic:
“There is no religion without love,
and people may talk as much as
they like about their religion, but
if it does not teach them to be good
and kind to man and beast,
it is all a sham.”
― Anna Sewell, Black Beauty
I have to admit it is difficult to not misrepresent Christianity with my reactive behaviors in regard to other people’s (what I feel) bad behavior. There needs to be a general understanding that humans are all sinners, Christians included. We all have behaved badly at some point, right? As a Christian, it is my daily objective to not willfully continue in sin.
1 John 1:8 If we say that we do not have any sin, we are deceiving ourselves and we’re not being truthful to ourselves.
Proverbs 24:16 for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.
Does this mean that I indeed conform to the moral norms I am so eagerly inclined to enforce in others?
(gulp) Ok I will try. No promises, but consider me a work in progress.
So, when is it ok to comment and react to other humans behaving badly? (I am talking about strangers, here… people driving in cars, shopping in stores, posting on the Internet --- but you do not know them.)
I don’t know. What do you think? I will lean towards an answer such as, “It depends.” I am pretty sure that is not the right answer, though.
Things I try to remember when strangers make me angry or frustrated, etc.:
The sagacity here: Keep yourself in-check. Let God deal with the others.
I am Susan. This space holds my own ponderings and observations.