Bible, Teaching
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Road Rage

Road rage Image: BY

Road rage Image: BY

[by Earl Blacklock] I was driving down the street, almost oblivious to anything other than my plans for the day. Going down the street in front of my destination bookstore, I spotted the only parking spot, an angled spot directly in front. Life was good!

After I parked, as I was about to open my door, I heard, then saw an outraged man shouting – nay, screaming at me. He was almost incoherent, but I managed to hear the words “You cut me off!”

The man was raging at me with all the venom he could summon, demanding that I open the car door – something I quickly decided would be imprudent. Talking through the closed window, watching his clenched fists, I wondered whether he would break the window to get at me. Thankfully, after sharing with me the full extent of his expletive-filled vocabulary, he finally departed, likely thinking me properly rebuked.

Unfortunately, I gained no wisdom from the incident. I had no recollection of having cut anyone off, and his tirade gave me no opportunity to learn any more about my oversight. I was only left with a sharp realization that I had deeply offended someone, at the most primal level, and had no real opportunity to make amends.

Since that day, early in my driving experience, I have known from the other side the outrage at the actions of the careless and the indifferent. I have even, unwisely, confronted my own offending drivers, albeit, it is to be hoped, with less venom than that expressed by my accuser.

Anger has become such a common part of our driving experience that it has its own term in the popular culture – “road rage”. It is a phenomenon that has injured, even killed. But it is certainly not new.

More than 55 years ago, sociologist Dr. Louis Balsam explained it thus: “All day long, on the job, perhaps at home, you have been carrying out orders given by others; behind the wheel of your car you are boss. You step on the gas and great power leaps to your command. You put distance between yourself and your unhappiness – temporarily.  Your car never argues; it obeys. All this is fine when things go well for you. But when you’re emotionally upset, your car can instantly turn into a lethal weapon.”

It is rare for a person to be in a constant rage, always ready to respond to the slightest offence. For the rest of us, the occasional moment when we express our great dissatisfaction with the driving habits of another usually leaves us feeling (and looking) foolish, as we swiftly regret that it took so little for us to lose control.

For those who recognize their inability to cope with their anger, Paul has this advice: “God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (I Corinthians 10:13b-14).

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