Taking the high road sucks. I’m in a season where I’ve been particularly tested in this, and while I’m actually doing ok, I’m internally suffering that I can’t be Batman, the justice vigilante.
A few years ago, I was at Bennigan’s with my mom, standing in line to be seated. I watched an older gentlemen with two small children berate the host after the host explained that the restaurant was short-staffed that day and it would take a little longer for their food to get to their tables. I watched this guy make a fool of himself by blaming a teenager for the fact that they had a few staff members call in sick and TGIFriday’s down the block was closed. He did this in front of a line of people waiting for a table, and in front of his small children.
As he walked past in a huff, I called him an “asshole.” When he turned around to ask what I said, I think he thought I’d turtle-up and say “nothing.” Instead, I told him he had no right to treat the host the way he did, it’s not the kid’s fault the restaurant is short-staffed or that TGIFriday’s is closed. He walked directly toward me as if he was going to smack me. I stood my ground and he thought better of it. He then turned and tried to backhandedly apologize to the host by saying he didn’t mean to imply all this was his fault. Poor kid.
I’m both proud and disappointed in myself when I think about that moment. I stood up for someone who wasn’t able to stand up for himself. I recognized injustice and boldly called out entitled behavior. I stood my ground and didn’t flinch as he approached to hit me. I hope his children remember that moment and treat others with respect because of it. I hope he remembers that moment and treats other with respect because of it.
I’m disappointed because I handled the situation poorly using foul language in front of children and strangers. I mean, let’s be honest here. I use foul language on a regular basis. But I try to not do it in front of kids, and I try to be a good witness to Jesus because life is just one big mission trip. I behaved rashly and emotionally, and tried to fight negativity with more negativity—which is not at all effective.
This month, I was sexually harassed by a middle school boy, I watched a man on a bicycle hit an elderly woman while attempting to ride through a crowd on the sidewalk, and I watched a feed of comments on a Facebook community board turn into ugly, personal, racist attacks. And now we, as a nation, are experiencing how ugly people can be to each other, watching potential presidential candidates belittle each other and stigmatize large groups of people.
What am I doing? I mean, what am I doing besides writing this post and praying?
Nothing. I’m not at the point yet where I’ve figured out how to respond to injustice maturely, without resorting to foul language, violence or personal attacks.
Please note: I’m in no way advocating those who’ve experienced injustice to just lay down and take it. Remember, we’re not door mats.
But I do think sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing, especially when you’re fighting the urge to reenact Peter lopping off people’s ears. Sometimes, no matter how hard it is, it’s best to take the high road.
I don’t believe in Karma, but I do believe God is our ultimate Judge and the One in control. He’ll take care of it. Even that little middle school turd who made kissy faces at me.