Today when I was out driving I made a slight error that delayed another car for about 10 seconds. The woman driving it let out a flood of profanity at me (and yes, she knew I was a nun and even called me a blankety-blank nun, among various other obscenities). I didn't respond but just drove away.
Have we as a society lost our sense of civility? Evidence certainly suggests that we have at least to some extent, as for example the increase of road rage incidents, etc. Yet when we lose civility, we lose an important part of the glue that holds societies together. Being courteous benefits all of us and can even prevent car accidents.
Here are a few other thoughts that came to me about this incident.
1. I said to the sister with me, "Whoa! Aren't you glad we don't have to live with her." Community life has its ups and downs, of course, and no community is perfect. But this incident made me feel very grateful that I do live in a wonderful community of dedicated, loving, and happy sisters. It is a joy that I can sometimes take for granted.
2. But the reality is that a lot of people do have to live in difficult situations, with difficult people who are sometimes just downright nasty. And that's very hard to bear. It's not just verbal abuse but domestic violence and sexual abuse as well. Maybe that woman is angry because she's had to endure something like that.
3. It was very clear to me that I didn't cause her anger; it came out of her spontaneously. As Jesus said in the Gospel, "Out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks" (Lk 6:45). When we inadvertently make a mistake and someone gets angry at us, it helps to remember that God doesn't treat us that way. God doesn't get angry at us for our mistakes and sins but always calls us to conversion.
3. I read somewhere a powerful thought that some people have no one to pray for them. Perhaps God puts a difficult person in our path because that person needs prayers. We don't know, but prayer can only help. So I've been praying for that woman today, and if you feel so inspired, maybe you could send up a Hail Mary for her too.
How do you react to road rage?