Have you noticed everywhere you look today, someone is mad about something? Who can share an opinion or wax eloquent even as innocuous as a favorite sports team without being derided or insulted as a neophyte? No matter if it’s religion, political leanings, or opinions on raising your children, you might as well accept the labels: moron, idiot, or nerd. What I find most fascinating about opinionated flamethrowers is, it is they who most times appear to be the ones who are three McNuggets shy of a Happy Meal.
Forget the analogy that there are too many chiefs not enough Indians. There is no Indians anymore. My wife is a customer service representative for an insurance company. Rarely does she have a day where is she isn’t cursed out, blessed out, or read the riot act over a “perceived” injustice. Yet it is her soft and kind demeanor that is frequently called upon to (as she says) “talk them calmly down off the bridge.”
I wouldn’t mind be corrected by someone if they’re right, but I hate taking correction from someone who’s wrong. The story is told about a small, country church where the pastor called a special meeting of the congregation to approve the purchase of a brand new chandelier. After some discussion pro and con, an old farmer stood up and said, “Buying a new chandelier may seem like a good idea to you, but I’m against it for three reasons. First of all, it’s too expensive and we can’t afford one. Second, there isn’t anybody around here who knows how to play one. And third, what we really need in this church is a new light fixture.”
Sometimes the conflict is not so subtle. Two neighbors had been fighting each other for almost four decades. Bob bought a huge St. Bernard and taught it to use the bathroom in Bill’s yard. For one whole year Bill ignored the dog but he couldn’t take it anymore. So Bob went out and bought a cow and taught it to use the bathroom only in Bill’s yard. After about a year and a half of Bob’s cow using Bill’s yard as a bathroom; being ignored all the while, a semi-truck pulls up in front of Bill’s house. Bob immediately runs over and demands to know what’s in the 18-wheeler. “My new pet elephant,” Bill replied solemnly.
Okay sometimes our anger can be caused by our ignorance and sometimes it’s just our inattention. A Lutheran pastor always started each service with “The Lord be with you.” The people would always respond, “and also with you.” But, one Sunday the PA system wasn’t working so the first thing he said was “There’s something wrong with this microphone.” The people responded, “and also with you.”
My hope today is if someone’s mad and their path is going to intersect with mine, can’t they spare me the angst and let it be with themselves for a change? If not, can I stake my pet elephant outside their house?