I had just dropped my car off to be repaired early in the morning and was walking the half mile to work. A dramatic thunderstorm had passed through town, leaving impressive puddles in the road. As I started down the sidewalk, a car veered from the center lane to the one closest to me, with the apparent intention to hit the puddle and drench me. I got soaked! I couldn’t believe it.
Once I got over my initial, expletive-filled (hope-all-the-neighborhood-kids-were-still-sleeping) response, I began to ponder the nature of humankind. What drives a person to get their jollies by immersing me in muddy water? Did that choice get their day off to a good start?
Very quickly, I realized the answer. It doesn’t matter if people are inherently good or evil. What does matter is my reaction to the mean behavior. Will I allow my initial frustration to linger? Will I take it out on the unfortunate people who pass my way afterwards?
Some say that rudeness comes from a place of hurt and fear. After all, who may have “drenched” them before I became their target? While I’m certainly not going to be a doormat for mean people, I’m also not going to waste my energy getting too worked up about them. I might even rise above this minor incident and see this person’s humanity.
“Compassion brings us to a stop, and for a moment we rise above ourselves” (Mason Cooley)
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