A few months ago, I put a St. Therese sticker on my car's rear bumper and it seems to me that ever since then, other drivers are particularly aggressive and spiteful. I've had people cut me off, nearly run me off the highway, and demonstrate other uncharitable (not to mention illegal!) road behavior. I know it's probably the Little Flower's way of getting me to pray for nasty people.
Tonight, my commute, typically 30 minutes long, was 90 minutes because of an accident that most likely involved a fatality. There was no warning that the ramp was closed so like the other drivers who planned to exit where I do, I put my turn signal on. No one would let me in. I asked the driver of the car next to me to let me in, but she looked at me and then stared straight ahead. Unbelievable. The old me would have rolled down the window and had a few choice words for her, possibly even accompanied by sign language. The new me could do little but seethe. I found myself hoping that the same driver would need me to let her in up ahead so I could give her a dose of her own medicine. How Christian of me.
Maybe the sticker had nothing to do with it, but I couldn't help but wonder. I can't remember the last time I experienced someone so spiteful.
I'm watching the evening news, and I see a young woman walking an emaciated dog with the sweetest face. I truly believe there is a special place in Hell for those who deliberately abuse and starve animals. A young woman stepped forward to foster the dog until a home is found for her. What makes people do such things?
I haven't done so in awhile, but I used to occasionally put together care packages and distribute them to the homeless. The bag would include disposable wash cloths, a change of underwear, a rain slicker, gum, toothbrush, some other toiletries and snacks, and usually a lunch with a drink. Two of the men who were regulars on my route each had a dog, and neither of them would ever take a bite of their sandwich until they'd offered their dog one first. Eventually, I started packing a separate care package for the dogs until one day, I mistakenly gave one to a person instead of the bag intended for people. I couldn't blame him for being insulted and no explanation would suffice.
I know Jesus said to turn the other cheek, and that's usually ok when it's my cheek getting slapped. When it's defenseless animals or children, it's quite another story.
I was in a little pizza restaurant with my husband some years ago when a counselor entered with a few of his mentally challenged clients with him. None of them could talk, but you could see how excited they were to be out to dinner. A group of teens came in and sat nearby and quickly, the situation deteriorated. One of the counselor's clients had no teeth, and he was fascinated by the group of teens and kept smiling at them. Rather than return the kindness, they proceed to ridicule him. The counselor could do nothing but ignore them. The stupid owner of the restaurant ignored them. Not me. No sir.
I kept hearing them refer to the smiling adult as "Gums" and the taunts just kept getting louder. I asked our waiter if there was nothing he could do but he said it was up to the owner. Finally, despite my husband's pleas, I walked over to the ignoramuses and said "Gums is better than scums, which is what the lot of you are."
Then I told the restaurant owner he was a coward. Then I was asked to leave.
Do you think those teens learned anything from that encounter? Probably not. What purpose did it serve to tell them off? It made me feel better and I also feel like maybe I shamed other people, including my spouse, into not sitting by silently and watching cruelty go unchecked.
A few months ago, I gave a woman hell for dragging her puppy down the street by its neck while she talked on her cell phone. She gave it right back to me. Many people watched her as she dragged the dog over a city block, shaking their heads but not saying a word. That's not my way. I'm not brave. I just could not live with myself if I didn't speak up.
"Mind your own business"
Nope. Not so long as I'm expected to be my brother's keeper.