“These are the times that try men’s souls.” Thomas Paine
“Excuse me! Why did you antagonize my dogs?” I had let my dog linger a few seconds by the fence where two dogs go crazy barking every time we pass. I tried to step away from defensiveness in the face of her attack (because, who cares?) but in the heat of that moment, mean took over.
My reply dripped with her same nasty tone, “I’m sorry. It was only two seconds.”
She yelled, “I watched you stand there. My dogs are not friendly and you got them upset.”
I wish I’d found words to say, “I’m really sorry. [I am] I didn’t mean to upset them. Would it be better for you if we crossed the street on this block? Would that help?” Instead, my parting words were “Okay you can own that sidewalk.” I walked off with a lot of sadness, anger, and discomfort.
We’re basically neighbors—how could we act like that toward each other?
I think of the bicyclist who got mad when I couldn’t tell which way he was going so he stopped in the middle of the street and wouldn’t move. I think of the woman at the dog park who started yelling inaccuracies about Bernie Sanders. I think about how often I don’t post on Facebook because I don’t want to draw hateful responses.
I think about the more serious clashes fueled by fear, anger and misery in our world that are a backdrop to every small dark interaction in my life. I feel like its more important than ever that I try to be humane.
I suspect it takes continuous practice on my part so that in the heat of a moment, I have words and a habit at the ready to resist falling into hate.
Looking hard at myself in these testy times. Finding my soul through all this.