October 23, 2021
i struggle daily with impatience, intolerance and anger.
They are gut reactions.
There is no room in my self image for such emotions, yet there they are.
The antidote for impatience is understanding.
The antithesis of intolerance is appreciation.
The alternative to anger is kindness.
The other day i was walking across a parking lot, head down to avoid the concrete parking stops, deep in thought.
As i approached a fast food restaurant for lunch a man behind me yelled,
“Why the hell did you walk behind my car?”
As i turned toward him he asked,
“Who does that?”
“i’m sorry,” i said. “What is wrong?”
“You walked right behind my car when i was backing into my spot.”
“i’m sorry, but i did not see you.”
“I know,” he yelled. “What kind of person does that?”
For a third time i apologized.
We arrived at the door to the restaurant.
The man pushed ahead of me, opened the door and said over his shoulder,
“Don’t stand behind me in the line.”
As the door closed i decided not to go into the restaurant.
Anger welled inside me.
What had i done to deserve this treatment?
What harm had i done to a man who was briefly inconvenienced by a pedestrian walking across a parking lot?
i took a long deep breath.
i forgave his impatience. He was probably hungry.
i understood his intolerance. i have had to brake for oblivious pedestrians walking behind my backing car.
And even though the kindness of my apologies was not enough to quell the man’s anger,
i took solace in the fact that i was kind.
Kindness comes from respect.
Every human being deserves respect.
No matter how they are behaving a human is behaving human.
i try to see the human in people.
i appreciate that humans are flawed… just like me.
i understand the duel between anger and kindness that every human faces.
But kindness must be delivered in the moment, like a parry to a thrust.
My best foil against anger is kindness.
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’
39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.
40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.”
— Matthew 5:38-40
Anger and kindness are diametrically opposed, yet they both take about the same amount of effort.
In my life, i try to replace the gut reaction of anger with kindness.
Kindness alleviates stress. It is good for the body and the soul.
The greatest sacrifice you can make is to assuage anger.
It is also the kindest service you can perform.