THIS MORNING, I ran past a guy applying pesticide to some shopping mall landscaping. I thought I had steered far enough away. Ten seconds later, I felt the unmistakable sensation of pesticide in my throat, which lingered for a good minute and a half.
|Coming for you, runnerboy!|
For a split-second I felt a flicker of annoyance at the guy. Catching myself, I was immediately reminded of the following from C.S. Lewis:
I am not angry-except perhaps for a moment before I come to my senses-with a man who trips me up by accident; I am angry with a man who tries to trip me up even if he does not succeed. Yet the first has hurt me and the second has not. Sometimes the behaviour which I call bad is not inconvenient to me at all, but the very opposite (1)I was not annoyed, except for a foolish moment, at guy trying to earn a buck, perhaps to feed his family. Had he intended to spray me? Of course not. Had he even seen me? Unlikely.
|Get a grip, chap.|
We daily encounter people spraying all kinds of poison (anger, ignorance, rudeness) in our direction. It would take us a long way toward accepting our coworkers and family members, if we understood that, usually, people are spraying their poison unthinkingly and from a place of fear, anxiety and pressure.
Perhaps we can, with a little effort and grace, give their behavior some context. Maybe, we can give them the same understanding we give ourselves and that we want for ourselves from others.
(1) Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. Ch. 3, "The Reality of the Law."