I’ve been talking about the Beatitudes for the purpose living life as a peacemaker. The Message translation says, “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s Family.” (Matthew 5:9) My life has been dedicated to this cause and I have considered myself blessed for it. That does not mean that I do not face situations that challenge my beliefs. It is not always easy to pursue peace with all men especially when you have been triggered by someone or simply find yourself in a situation where you unintentionally trigger someone with your words or actions.
A couple of weeks ago, I was driving down the road when another driver started to sway into my lane. I noticed he was talking on his cell phone and I quickly decided to tap my horn. I was thinking it might be safe to get his attention. Little did I know that my actions would become his trigger. My impression of his response was that he lost his mind. He yelled at me, swerved his car as if he was going to side swipe me then sped up to get in front of me and hit his breaks. I quickly got into the next lane over to avoid him. It’s difficult to explain the remaining sequence of events but due to traffic, I managed to get into a slower lane and avoid further interaction with him.The maneuvering lasted for another mile and I had ample time to think of how I wanted to handle things.
If necessary, I prepared myself to ram him if he got out of the car. I considered what weapons I had at my disposal. Would I keep my windows rolled up or would I try to calm him down if he caught me at a red light. I have to tell you, the adrenaline began to rush as I considered my response. Would I fight, flight or freeze?
I decided it wasn’t worth the possible consequences of a face to face standoff so I hit a left turn to go into a neighborhood to avoid further interaction. As he was still in front of me, I did not know if the driver would hit a turn at the next block to search me out as he was definitely trying to engage with me further.
As I drove my new route to get to my destination, I continued to be on guard, considering my next steps. Fortunately I never saw him again but I was still shaken up and thought of what I needed to do to keep myself safe. I even thought, I should have had a gun on me.
I’ve shared my thoughts because I find it interesting that even a person like me, who seeks peace and have a career teaching people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight, could find myself in a situation where I would have considered using a gun if it was at my disposal. I thought how quickly things escalate to violence. While I’m still not convinced that I would not own a gun for protection, I’m overwhelmed with sadness to think how fast life can be lost and the ultimate effect of it on society.
While I’m sure a conversation could go many ways, I want to go back to Jesus’ teaching where the King James translation says, “Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.” I don’t think any translation says, “Blessed are the Safe”.
While I’ve spent my life trying to develop safe communities, we have not been promised that. We live in a violent world and we have to be prepared to meet our maker at any time. I’m believing for long life but more importantly, I want to live a life of obedience to my creator. All of the Beatitudes are about living according to God’s Kingdom which does not operate according to the ways of this world.
As I close, I want you to consider Jesus’s words that came immediately before He instructed us to be peacemakers. He said, “You’re blessed when you get your inside world — your mind and heart– put right . Then you can see God in the outside world.” (The Message)
Sometimes our commitment to God’s way does not coincide with the “Safe way” and we must draw on His strength to pursue peace with all men. (Meditate on that and let those words take you where they will.)
Alan (Little Rock) Delery