How about this for a powerful picture? The point is fairly clear. It is so easy to get upset with our fellow humans. They can certainly give us plenty reasons to do so, can’t they? One of my annoyances lately is reckless driving. It really is on the rise. So much so, our city is now issuing a fine of $10,000 for reckless driving. This may seem extreme, but when you consider the cost in both money and life that this can cause, it is understandable. There is also no reason for it. The streets are not a video game. It used to really upset me to see this, and it still does on occasion. One goofy phrase I have introduced into my vernacular is “Maybe they have to poop.” Let us be honest. We have all been there. Innocently driving home when all of a sudden… nature calls. In an effort to reach a destination where it is safe to conduct our business we may have to bend a few traffic rules. I am not sure if there is a rise in intestinal distress, but I sure find myself using this phrase a little more often these days.
It is not just crazy drivers that this applies to. I recall a story that Stephen Covey once told. He was on the subway with a man whose children were running wild and yelling. As the ride went on the children behaved worse and worse. The father seemed oblivious to their behavior. Finally, Mr. Covey asked the man, “Don’t you think you should do something about your children’s behavior?” The man looked up and looked at his children who were misbehaving and replied, “You are right. The truth is we just left the hospital where their mother passed away. They don’t really know how to act and to be honest, neither do I.” Imagine how he felt after hearing that. It is true that his children were not behaving properly for riding the subway, and Stephen Covey was in his right to speak up and say something. Not knowing the complete story behind someone’s actions can certainly lower the amount of compassion we treat them with. Just like the story above, we never know the full story behind people.
Traumatic childhoods, abusive relationships, and stressful home life may not be excuses to treat someone with no dignity or respect, but it can help us to understand and maybe help that person heal. This is not easy. I still get upset with others and may be tempted to give them something to heal from rather than to help them heal, but stories like the one above are a stark reminder that is not the right course of action. When someone does something to hurt us physically, mentally or emotionally, it can be quite difficult to stop and consider what made them act is such a fashion. If we learn to do so, we can not only reduce our stress, but help others and the world we live in.