Last week, a man in Tampa, Fla., was gunned down in a movie theater because he was texting on his phone. Two people were killed in an Indiana grocery store. A Texan was murdered in a case of road rage.
It could be easy to tie these savage acts to some referendum on gun control, but that’s not my aim. Instead, I think we have a larger problem with anger.
What kind of person gets so enraged at somebody texting that they decide to kill them? Who gets so irate at being cut off in a vehicle that they jump out into traffic and commit murder? Who self-appoints themselves the Movie Police or the Traffic Officer of the Day and metes out justice?
Whatever happened to taking a deep breath to settle down? What happened to talking out issues?
I have two children. You’d think that after the 30th time of telling one of them to brush their teeth or do their homework or pick up their rooms and getting a blank stare that I’d be ready to crack some heads, but what would that accomplish?
Why should I blow a gasket because somebody isn’t doing what I want them to? Isn’t that the epitome of selfishness?
Granted, using parenting as an example here is going a bit off the rails, because you really do need to teach behavior modification to children, but the key word there is “teach.” If I fill somebody with lead because they’ve disobeyed me, I haven’t taught anyone anything. If I get so angry that I’m driven to violence, nobody is learning a darned thing.
What I really want to know is how we get so angry. Is it because we expect people to do what we want, so when they don’t, we think it is OK to blow up? Let’s face it, to take somebody’s life, one has to really go ballistic enough that they lose all sense of reality. What could possibly anger a person that much?
I think of things that get my ire up. Losing a game. Being put on hold for an hour. Pulling away from the drive-thru window to find the wrong order. Having a person nearly hit me because they are texting while driving.
Can you imagine if I took each of those acts as blatant slaps in the face and did my best Dirty Harry impression while ending their lives?
Let’s settle down and stop taking each act of perceived disrespect as killable offenses by fits of anger. Respect is not a right and it should be earned, and people certainly aren’t gaining it by murdering in numbers.
Stop being so angry and talk out problems. Is that really too much to ask?
You can reach Scott at email@example.com to say “Do you feel lucky, punk”?