flipping the bird

I love it when spring and summer welcome the way to warmer weather. Days lengthen and sleeves shorten, and at least in the mid and northern states, neighbors begin to commune more outside together.

One of my personal fave responses is rolling down the window, opening up the sun roof, and letting the music blare… maybe straight from the latest hit pop charts… maybe an 80’s throwback… maybe a little contemporary Christian mixed in, just to keep me grounded.

I love driving and living like this!

A couple weeks ago, we experienced one of those breakthrough days. The warmer weather had peeked through, but still wasn’t here to stay.

I was driving as depicted down a decently busy, more residential street, maybe going somewhere near 35 m.p.h. After the stopped light turned green, I pressed on the accelerator (and revved up the music) and started to go. But immediately, all of a sudden, a sharp red sports car gunned his gas pedal and turned right in front of me, causing me to stop and slam on the brakes.

I admit… I thought about my reaction for a prolonged nano-second, but then I hit my horn briefly, calling attention to the man’s actions. It wasn’t a long honk, but it was a honk nonetheless, bringing attention to the misdoings of the man.

Let’s be clear. I had the right of way. There was zero question. There was no existence of “gray” in this intersection.

The driver of the other car made a decision that was questionable. I had done no wrong. However, when his decision-making was drawn attention to, he promptly responded by sticking his hand up and out his open window, and flipped me none other than the infamous, disrespectful “bird.”

Did I have to honk? No.

Was it wrong for me to honk? No.

Did I lay on my horn and exaggerate any offense? No.

I simply called attention to the choice of another that was questionable at best. He couldn’t handle the question. Let me say it one another way: he wasn’t willing to handle the question.

It thus made me wonder how often we do that… how often we can’t handle the question. And instead of dealing with our own responsibility, our own culpability, how our own decisions potentially negatively influence others, we are quick to flip that bird, so-to-speak… we are quick to deflect all attention so that we never have to wrestle with personal responsibility.

Perhaps we intentionally or unintentionally exaggerate or share a mistruth… “yeah, but he… she lied first…”

Or we treat someone rudely…  “yeah, but he… she… they were mean to me…”

Or maybe we simply refuse to forgive… “they hurt me… don’t you know that? … don’t you know what they did?”

How often do we deflect the blame?

Better yet, how often do we ignore our own involvement? How often do we allow the behavior of another to prompt the denial of personal responsibility? How often do we refuse to acknowledge ethical, moral, or relational wrongdoing simply because it’s easier to point fingers at any who call attention to it?

People… parties… us.

It’s tough. It’s easier just to flip those birds. Regardless of season.