Years ago, when our drive home from eating out required fifteen miles of narrow, winding road, a car pulled up close behind us, lights on bright. It stayed close and the lights stayed on bright. There was a time when I would have slowed down to thirty-five or so, maybe slower. This technique usually irritates the other driver, which allegedly pays them back for their inconsideration. If you also add the technique of slowing down further on the curves and hills and speeding up quickly in the passing areas, you can move from “irritating” to “infuriating” and produce a myriad of road rage possibilities. So, I didn’t use that technique.
Instead, I pulled over onto the shoulder and let the other vehicle go by, then swung right back onto the road and proceeded, without incident, on my way home. The whole thing slowed us down by no more than ten seconds.
We have all sorts of opportunities for those “small” moments of vengeance when we can re-pay with evil the evil done to us. “Evil” may sound like exaggeration and over-statement, but it’s not really. Whenever we pay back inconsideration for inconsideration, rudeness for rudeness, it is vengeance and it is evil.
Sure, they “deserve it,” but so what? A life of grace is not about getting or giving what is deserved. I could have slowed down and inconvenienced the other driver but in the process I would have extended the duration of my own irritation, too. And… increased the likelihood of more serious retaliation. That’s how it always is with vengeance, even in its smallest and most mundane forms. Isn’t it better to contribute more kindness to the universe rather than adding to the darkness?