Values

I’m watching a show on TV in which a girl was hit by a train because another driver, filled with rage pushed her car across the tracks. This was a fictional story, of course, but this could just as easily be a true story. We have all been guilty of road rage, whether we want to admit it or not. I recalled my own experiences with road rage, on both sides of the story.

I was going home for lunch one day as the snow was melting. I lived out in the country, and didn’t often go home at lunch, but I had forgotten something that day, so I was in a hurry. As I was driving along, a car pulled right out in front of me. I swerved to miss him, and spun completely around in the road, due to the melting snow. I came to a stop, safe at last, so I got out of my car. He got out too, and said, “Are you alright?” My answer, “Yes…You aren’t too smart, are you?” He meekly responded, “I guess not. I’m glad you’re ok. Have a good day.” Of course, I felt like two cents waiting for change, and I decided at that moment, that road rage was a waste of energy, and it tended to make people feel really bad…on both sides.

A few years later, I was sitting at an intersection. The light was red, so I was stopped. The light changed to green, and I started to proceed into the intersection. Suddenly another driver came through the red light right in front of me. I stopped, and as she came through the intersection, I observed her panicked face. Many thoughts ran rapidly through my head, but then I recalled the earlier incident, and I smiled and waved. The relief that flooded her face was all I needed to know that I had made the right move. Two people went their way that day with a smile on their faces, knowing that kindness is the better way.

Another time I was on the other side of that coin, in that I was the one who went through the red light. No accident occurred, but the man who had to stop because of me, followed me to the next light, got out of his car screaming. I tried to ignore him, but he wasn’t leaving. I grabbed my cell phone, called my daughter, and rolled the window down a crack. He was still yelling when he realized that I was talking on the phone…I turned to him and said, “I’m sorry. What more do you want me to say?” He sort of, came to himself and realized what he was doing, apologized and left. I was shaking.

Just the other day, with the parking lot covered in snow, I was driving down the lane at Albertson’s, when a girl came across 4 parking rows and in her white car, ended up right in front of me. I jumped, turned the wheel to the right, thankfully no cars were right there, and avoided her car. Again, our eyes met, and the relief on both faces was very obvious. We smiled…very relieved smiles, and went on our way. That was how my new year started. I felt thankful that it wasn’t different, and thankful that we both left the rage out of the mix.

Recently I had the misfortune to deal with a couple of situations in which a person in authority lied to cover their own backside. I know that the natural instinct in life is to do whatever it takes to protect yourself, but when a person in authority lies, it is really inexcusable. People need to be able to trust those in authority. It is especially deplorable when a person in authority lies to our children. Children are looking for someone to model themselves after, to look up to, and when a person they trust lies and the child knows they lied, they begin to think that all adults are the same.

There were two recent situations whereby teachers/coaches lied to their students, and that especially angers me. We tell our children to listen to their teachers and be obedient in class, and when the teacher/coach is the liar, and our children are the ones who take the fall on it, or don’t receive what they were told they would receive…well, it is wrong in every way. The children lose faith in the teacher/coach, the school system, authority figures, and adults in general. They begin to feel that they are not important, so adults don’t feel the need to be honest. And to top it off, the same authority figure will “punish” in one way or another, the student for lying. If you are going to lie to the students, at least have the decency to expect the same treatment, and be big enough to let it go when they do lie to you. After all, what have you taught them? As a teacher, you have taught them not to lie as children, but when you reach adulthood…well, then it’s ok.

The one thing we can take with us, no matter where we go, is our good name, or bad name, if that is what you choose to cultivate. If you destroy your good name by lying, you must work awfully hard to get it back, if it is possible to do so. The best thing to do is to protect your good name by never telling lies, and keeping your word even when it costs you more than you had hoped.

My husband and I were at the mall last night for our evening walk, when I saw a teen aged girl wearing a t-shirt that said, “Discipline or Disappointment, Take Your Pick” on the back of it. My first thought was, “Well, how profound.” But after thinking about it for a little while I began to wonder what our kids really want. I don’t think you would see a teenager wearing a shirt like that one if they weren’t trying to make a serious statement. This girl truly understood that without discipline in our lives, we are not going achieve our best self.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that most teenagers won’t admit that they need and really, want limits, but I believe that most kids do want to be good kids. I don’t think that any child dreams of being in constant trouble, but without limits, rules and regulations, and discipline, kids will get into trouble. Now I know that many people don’t like spanking, but there are many ways to discipline your child. I don’t believe that “time out” is an effective method, but I think grounding works quite well.

In this world of bad influences, it is hard enough to keep kids out of the kind of trouble that comes from time spent with the wrong kind of friends, but when you add a lack of discipline at home to that mix, you are headed for trouble.

Was this girl a one in a million, I don’t really think so, unless you are talking one in a million who tell it like it is. No, I think she is speaking for many other teenagers who are saying, help me be better. Make me behave. Help me achieve. Keep me out of trouble. Give me limits, rules, regulations, discipline, because all of these things, even though I might hate them at times, tell me you LOVE me.

Mistakes are a part of every human life, and most of us would agree that we hope that the people around us will overlook our mistakes most of the time. It is our hope that people will show mercy to us, like God shows us mercy, unearned pardon for wrongs we have done. And not just God or our friends, but we hope we can talk our way out of tickets and other errors we make, and if we are kids, detentions, groundings, and other forms of punishments. Most of the time our attempts at talking our way into mercy seem to fail miserably, as many people will tell you after they pay for their traffic tickets. While these are usually punishments we have earned, is there something wrong with showing mercy? There shouldn’t be. When people around us make mistakes, whenever possible we should forgive them. Especially when there was no harm done…really.

For example, I was driving in the parking lot at Albertson’s on New Years Day, when a car coming across several rows of parking area pulled right out in front of me. It all happened so fast. In a flash of white she was right in front of me. Thankfully, there were no cars right in that area, and I wasn’t going very fast, so I was able to slow way down and move to the right to avoid the collision that seemed inevitable. As I looked into her very scared and totally apologetic expression, I thought of how many times I could have been in her shoes. No harm was done, so really what would be accomplished by making her feel stupid. Truly it would have done no good, and having been on the receiving end of a justifiably angry driver who had barely avoided hitting me, and yelled at me when I was then stuck at a red light, I decided I really didn’t want to put someone else through that, so I smiled a relieved smile, as did she, and we both went our way, feeling much better I’m sure.

We need to remember that since everyone makes mistakes, and we are sure to make them mistakes again some time, maybe we should allow some mistakes to slide sometimes, unpunished, offering instead mercy, even if we are right, and the mercy is undeserved, because at some point, we might receive the same kindness we have shown.

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