Patience or Why You Should Never Run a Green Light!

“You mean Red Light, don’t you?”  “No, I mean Green Light.”  From a conversation at a motorcycle safety meeting.

Patience is number three of my seven essential virtues for leading a happy and successful life.  Every Wednesday I start my day with the following prayer:

  • Give me the patience to avoid judging others today and forgive me for those times when I fail.

Augustine-of-Hippo-Patience-QuotesBefore, I explain the story behind the Red Light versus Green Light comment, let me give you a little test to see how patient you are.  I will do this by way of posing three scenarios.  I will suggest some possible paths that you could take in each scenario.  You select the action that you would be most likely to take or that perhaps you usually take.  I will then give you a score for each possible path.  The scores will point to your “patience quotient.”

checkout

People waiting in line with shopping baskets at grocery store

The first scenario involves a common enough occurrence in most of our lives.  You have finished your grocery shopping and now need to find a cashier to check out with.  Today, there are only six lanes open and the lines seem to be somewhat disproportionate in length.  Do you?

A. Try to find the shortest line before moving your cart into position

B. Simply take the first line you come to

C. Hang back and see if they will open another line

D. Get into one line but hop over to another line if it seems to be moving faster

mc-cullgreets-061611-sn-tifOur second scenario involves going to church service.  At the end of many services, the minister (Do Rabbis and Imams do this?) will wait at the door and greet the outgoing parishioners.  Do you?

A. Wait in line and wonder why the heck they have to do this

B. Get in line and look forward to greeting the minister

C. See if you can find another door to exit by

D. Say some prayers in your pew until the line shortens

Our third and final scenario finds us on our ubiquitous freeway system wending our way to some appointment that we will probably be late to if the traffic stays so slow.  Do you?

A. Silently curse the other drivers on the road

B. Try to find the fastest line

C. Simply resign yourself to being late and stay in one lane

D. Weave in and out to get ahead of the other traffic

If you selected, D for 1, C for 2, and D for 3.  You have a patience problem.  On the other hand, if you selected B for 1, B for 2 and C for 3, you should be writing this blog and not me.   All other choices put you somewhere between patient and impatient.  You decide and be honest where you are at on this continuum.

It is has been said that Patience is the greatest of all virtues, but I will not argue that point because it is meaningless.  Patience can save your life. Patience can save your sanity and Patience can save your soul.  These three facts are cause enough to consider that Patience should rank at least among the top virtues in terms of importance.  How high it should rank for you will depend on how you rated yourself on my scenarios.  For instance, if you weave in and out of traffic trying to get someplace a few seconds or even minutes faster, you not only endanger your own life but you endanger the life of other people.  You have a patience problem.

Patience can save your life because as the saying goes “Haste makes waste.”  How many people have died because they could not wait?  They were so impatient and they just had to take the shortcut.  Whether it involved shutting the electricity off before doing some repairs, waiting for someone to hold a ladder for them or taking their time crossing the road by looking both ways, impatience costs lives.  You will live longer if you are more patient.

“He that can have patience can have what he will.”  ― Benjamin Franklin

“Patience can save your sanity, because you will be living a pretty stressful life it other people’s actions can dictate your feelings.  If you get mad in lines at the behaviors of people who take too long or have too many coupons, you will be habitually angry.  If you get mad at “inconsiderate” other drivers, you will be stressed whenever you set foot in a vehicle.  If your expectations of people mean that they should help you to save time in your life, you will most likely die from a premature heart attack.

“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.”  — Leo Tolstoy

Patience can save your soul.  A good person is someone who can have empathy for others. Other people make mistakes.  Other people are late.  Other people may not plan as well as you do.  Other people may be preoccupied and seem inconsiderate.  If you lack patience, you will lack empathy for others.  Lacking empathy for humanity is a sure way to become calloused and soulless.  A spiritual person does not judge others and as Jesus said “

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged.  For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”  — Matthew 7:1

So why should you never run a green light.  Well, the answer is simple.  How many times have you sat at a light and watched some frenzied driver try to beat the light and fail?  How many times have you seen someone run a red light while you were waiting to enter the intersection?  How many times might you have been killed if you had been in the intersection when the other party ran the red light?  I always make a point of slowly entering an intersection after a light changes as opposed to gunning my engine and racing though the intersection.  This simple thought of “never running a green light” has saved my life more times than I can count both when I was on my motorcycle and in my car.  This was my point at our motorcycle safety meeting that day and everyone nodded thoughtfully after I had explained why you should “never run a green light.”

Time for Questions:

How did you do on my three scenarios?  How patient a person are you?  What would you have to do to become more patient?  What is stopping you?

Life is just beginning.

“Prayer of an Anonymous Abbess”

Lord, thou knowest better than myself that I am growing older and will soon be old.  Keep me from becoming too talkative, and especially from the unfortunate habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and at every opportunity.

Release me from the idea that I must straighten out other peoples’ affairs.  With my immense treasure of experience and wisdom, it seems a pity not to let everybody partake of it.  But thou knowest, Lord, that in the end I will need a few friends.

Keep me from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.

Grant me the patience to listen to the complaints of others; help me to endure them with charity.  But seal my lips on my own aches and pains — they increase with the increasing years and my inclination to recount them is also increasing.

I will not ask thee for improved memory, only for a little more humility and less self-assurance when my own memory doesn’t agree with that of others.  Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong.

Keep me reasonably gentle.  I do not have the ambition to become a saint — it is so hard to live with some of them — but a harsh old person is one of the devil’s masterpieces.

Make me sympathetic without being sentimental, helpful but not bossy.  Let me discover merits where I had not expected them, and talents in people whom I had not thought to possess any. And, Lord, give me the grace to tell them so.

Amen”
― Margot Benary-Isbert

 

 

 

 

The Tenth Greatest Mystery of All Time:  Do Weapons Prevent or Create Violence?

peace textGuns don’t kill people, people do!  Obama wants to take our weapons away so the Communists can take over the country.  A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. We have the right to defend ourselves.  What if someone attacked us and we had no means of self-defense?  Ridiculous, you cannot eliminate weapons.  If we did not have guns and missiles, people would kill each other with sticks and stones.  They always have and they always will.  You can’t eliminate violence by taking people’s weapons away!  Or can we?   (Listen to Give Me Love by George Harrison)

“If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.”  ― John Lennon

There are several paths to take that would help us solve this mystery.  We could look at all the time spent in current and previous wars and compare that to periods of time when the earth was relatively peaceful.  We could look at countries where dollars spent on weapons are high and compare war or violence in those countries to their counterparts where dollars spent on weapons on low.  We could look at the per capita number of weapons in various countries and compare that to crime rates.  Unfortunately, each of these we are warapproaches has been tried and they actually prove very little.  For the most part, it would be a toss-up for each approach.  Those in favor of weapons would argue that without them, there would have been even less peace and those against weapons would argue that the weapons caused the wars, violence and crime in the first place.  They might say “Can you imagine ISIS attacking with flowers and cotton balls?”

“Dad, how do soldiers killing each other solve the world’s problems?”  ― Bill WattersonCalvin and Hobbes: Sunday Pages 1985-1995

Looking at the role of weapons in violence actually misdirects us from a more important question. The more important question is how effective are weapons at resolving violence?  While it can be conceded that weapons do not create violence, are they the most effective means of dealing with violence?  It has often been said that “war is a continuation of politics by other means.”  It might even be more true to say that war represents a failure of politics and a resort to violence to solve problems.  So who is right?  Were Gandhi and King right or were Generals Sheridan and Patton right?  There has been some research which might cast light on this second question.

non violenceResearchers Maria Stephan and Erica Chenoweth show that non-violent movements are twice as effective in achieving their political goals as violent movements. For example, in Timor-Leste, where violent revolution failed, non-violent tactics secured independence and the country now earns a peace score of “high” in the GPI. (Timor-Leste scores 1.95; a score of one is perfectly peaceful.) When people choose non-violent movements they may be improving the structures that support peace in the long run even when governments respond violently in the short run.  http://economicsandpeace.org/

Let’s take a hypothetical case.  Paul and Mohammed are arguing over whose religion is best.  Paul is a Christian and Mohammed is a killed manMuslim.  The argument gets more and more heated until Paul slanders the prophet Mohammed and calls him a pedophile.  Mohammed fires back that Jesus Christ was a fake and not the son of God.  Paul is armed with a concealed carry permit and carries a Glock 36 in a concealment crew neck shirt.  Mohammed is carrying a small 6 inch Jambiya in the waistband of his trousers with a special quick draw holster concealed under his shirt.

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”  ― Albert Einstein

Paul throws the first punch at Mohammed who is knocked to the floor.  Mohammed starts to get up and reaches for his Jambiya.  Paul upon seeing the blade being pulled out of Mohammed’s waistband, draws his Glock.  Mohammed (still feeling the effects of Paul’s punch) lurches forward.  Paul aims and fires three times hitting Mohammed in center mass and right arm.   Mohammed dies almost instantly from a hit to the heart.

anger-cycle-3When the police arrive, Paul is very sorry. He did not mean for this to escalate as it did.  The police charge Paul with manslaughter.  Paul goes to court and is found not guilty.  Paul is then charged in a civil lawsuit with a wrongful death claim and found guilty.  The financial costs of Paul’s argument are well over 100 thousand dollars.  The mental and emotional strain to Paul and his family are incalculable as are the losses to Mohammed’s wife and children.

The strongest defenses to a murder charge are provocation and Self-Defense. If the defendant acted completely in self-defense, this fact may relieve the defendant of all criminal liability. If it does not relieve the defendant of all liability, self-defense at least may reduce the charge from murder to manslaughter. Provocation rarely results in complete absolution, but it may reduce the defendant’s criminal liability.

Now let’s rerun the same scenario with a few minor changes.  Paul is not carrying a gun and Mohammed is not carrying a knife.  The same argument ensues and Paul punches Mohammed.  Mohammed rises shakily from the ground and stumbles to his feet.  Mohammed is too disoriented to counter-attack and has no training in hand to hand combat.  He has no knife to rely on.  Instead, Mohammed asks Paul “Why did you hit me?”  Paul, now on the down stage of the Anger Cycle is feeling remorseful and says “I am really sorry.  I don’t know what got over me.  I did not appreciate your calling Jesus a fake.”  Mohammed says “well, you insulted the Prophet but I did not hit you.”  Both men go their own way vowing never to talk to each other again.  No police have been called and the only physical damage is a sore jaw for Mohammed.

“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”  ― Mahatma Gandhi

Road-RageAt this point, you might be laughing at my scenarios and decrying their likelihood.  However, I have been in many situations where fighting has occurred and the second scenario was the more likely of the two if no weapons were involved.  Put weapons into the mix, add alcohol and I guarantee you will be looking at the first scenario.  Add alcohol san weapons to the second scenario and you will simply have two drunks cursing each other but going home physically sound.

So, what role do weapons have in peace making?  Did the Russians not nuke us because we had a greater nuclear deterrent?  Quite likely this was the case during the Cold War.  However, what if neither side had nuclear weapons, or bombers or aircraft carriers or machine guns or hand grenades or napalm or bio-chemical weapons?  What if diplomacy and persuasion and peaceful non-violent protest were the only weapons to grace each side?  Would the world be more peaceful or simply less violent?  What is the difference you may ask?  A good question.

Peace can be defined:  A state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations.

Non-violence can be defined as:  The policy, practice, or technique of refraining from the use of violence, especially when reacting to or protesting against oppression, injustice, discrimination, or the like.

gun store 047Peace is never likely to exist perpetually.  People, nations, religions, ethnic groups will always have a degree of enmity between them.  Peace will be cyclical as the nature of the world is in most things.  Periods of civility will be interspaced with periods of incivility.  But incivility does not have to turn into violence.  Without weapons of mass destruction, without weapons of mayhem, without weapons of killing, people may be more likely to find non-aggressive means of settling disputes. The disputes will most certainly arise but a focus on peace as opposed to aggression can mean that we minimize violence and decrease the amount of murder and wars that our societies have seen since the first cave-people.  We must substitute non-violence for violence and teach peace and not war.

Time for Questions:

Do you feel peace in your life?  Are you confident in walking the streets at night?  Do you worry about road rage?  Do you carry a concealed weapon?  If so, does it make you safer?  What would it take to make you feel like the world is a safe place?  Do the Army, Navy, Air force and Marines help you to feel safe at night?

Life is just beginning.

“The artist is always beginning.  Any work of art which is not a beginning, an invention, a discovery is of little worth.”  ― Ezra Pound

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