(Normally I post encouraging or inspirational messages. But the events on the news lately are so distressing that i wanted to make a point about the origins of injustice.)
In the evening at my local drug store, I had located my purchases and proceeded to the check-out. Another customer joined me in line. Just then, an agitated elderly man stomped up to checkout, not bothering to get in line.
“How come your pharmacy isn’t open?” he demanded.
The clerk, a nice young man, stopped scanning my items and gave the man his attention. “I’m sorry, Sir, but the pharmacy closes at 6.”
“But I called in my prescription here. My wife needs her medicine,” shouted the rude man. Why can’t you open the pharmacy and get my prescription filled?”
“Sir, I’m not allowed to do that,” replied the polite clerk. “But there is a twenty-four hour drugstore just down the road. They can fill it for you.”
The man huffed like a bull about to charge. At this point, there were now three people in line behind me, waiting to make their purchases.
“So, what are you gonna do?” The image elderly man loomed over the cash register, eyes boring into the nice clerk.
“I really sorry, Sir.”
“Well, I’m not!” The disappointed man stormed out, and all of us customers breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Afterward, I slipped into the relative safety of my Toyota and shook my head at that old man’s rudeness. Now, granted, he needed to fill his wife’s prescription.
But he was late. He was rude. He didn’t wait his turn. He shouted and intimidated others. He expected the clerk to break the law by playing pharmacist. Never mind that the clerk could get fired and even sent to prison for dispensing drugs without a license.
Everyone was to blame for his failure to get his prescription filled. He cared not one whit for anyone but himself.
This experience reminds me of a Dr. Oz show recently where three women were asked about road rage. “What do you do when somebody cuts you off?” the good doctor asked.
All of the women responded with, “I flip them the bird.”
Not one of them recognized that their tit-for-tat response on the road contributes to road rage.
Nope, it was solely the other guy’s fault.
It’s extremely rare nowadays for a person to admit his own culpability in an angry altercation.
In divorce, in family relationships, in work situations, in church misunderstandings, in race relations: it’s always the other guys.
Where is the self examination? Where is the repentance? Where is the reconciliation?
On first glance, I’d like to say that we have a societal problem.
But it goes way deeper than that.
This is a spiritual issue. An individual issue.
Baltimore? Ferguson? Political corruption? A national psyche building itself on the premise that tolerance of badness, coarseness, rudeness is good. We have no right—indeed, we are bigoted and racist—if we expect certain standards of behavior. Rioters—and little children in the home—should be allowed to express their rage through physical violence. Even well-meaning, but mis-lead Christians say we have no right to judge bad behavior. Never mind that the scriptures tell us that we should: “have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by the rudeness and selfishness of the old man in the drugstore. He’s a microcosm of an attitude that permeates nearly every area of our society.
Without the mirror of God’s Word, we assume our own faces are spotless. It’s the other guy who’s got the grimy face.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility considers others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phil. 2: 3,4 NIV Bible)