Sorry I haven't posted in so long, but it seems I haven't had much to say.
An ugly incident I witnessed this morning, however, moves me to write. I consider it symptomatic of the deepening chronic anger that seems to permeate our society.
It happened in the main Columbia post office on Oak Hall Lane. Contrary to the stereotype, it wasn't postal workers who were flying off the handle.
I had dropped in to pick up a piece of mail addressed to me with postage due (thanks, Dad). Just as I had entered, one of the counter people told the people waiting in line that she could take anyone who was just picking up mail that didn't require any money to change hands. Two women quickly made their way to the counter. One took exception to the other's presence, noting that the other woman had been at the back of the line.
The second woman argued that she had simply moved quickly while the others were "staring at the wall." A man in the line took the first woman's side. Another woman who had apparently come in with the second woman jumped in, and soon a shouting match ensued.
I was a little surprised no one called the police, as the dispute appeared as if it might actually come to blows. At least the second woman seemed ready to mix it up.
The first woman continued to object, even as the second became increasingly belligerent.
Eventually, the second woman finished her business and the conflict ended. A third woman, who had witnessed the dispute, arrived at the counter where the whole thing started. Noticing the pink pickup slip in my hands, she quickly offered to let me go ahead of her.
"That's OK," I told her. "I'm not in that big of a hurry."
I then remarked that I couldn't understand all the hassle that had just taken place.
"It's the principle," said the man who had sided with the first woman.
Fair enough. The second woman was clearly in the wrong. But so what?
It was just as clear that the second woman was not about to be shamed into relenting. No matter how right the first woman and her male defender were, spending any more time arguing with this boor wasn't going to change anything.
There seems to be a growing school of thought that one must not let go of any slight, even it amounts to just an few extra minutes' wait.
It's this kind of thinking that is getting young men shot because they are perceived to have "disrespected" someone who is armed.
By all means, stand up for your rights. Demand respect as a human being. But we also need to pick our battles and remember there's a point of diminishing returns.
One can take satisfaction and even serenity in knowing one is right, even when another gets away with a transgression.
I've been as guilty as anyone of letting my anger get the better of me at times, so this missive is meant for myself as much as for anyone else. Letting go isn't always letting yourself get stepped on.