Mike Cope's blog

Monday, November 01, 2004

Good words from Rubel Shelly in this week's "Fax of Life" that might be useful on this eve of the election. There has to be more to this story than made the papers. No charges were filed. The official report simply called it "accidental." But the consequences were quite serious – and could have been deadly. A resident of Confluence, Pennsylvania, saw a mouse. Since most of us don't like mice inside our residences, he took action. Instead of setting a trap, however, he got a pistol! Maybe he's a marksman. Maybe he just really hates rodents. But it turns out that he soon had cause to regret his decision. The 43-year-old man raised his weapon and fired. He missed the mouse but not his girlfriend! The bullet hit her in the arm and put her in Somerset Hospital. The day after the shooting, she was in fair condition. And state police who investigated the incident issued a statement encouraging people not to shoot guns indoors. I'd say that was a minimal lesson to be learned. It sounds like a real-life illustration of our tendency to overreact to things. To go to extremes. To do disproportionate damage in responding to people and events. Remember this old adage against extreme responses: "It's like swatting the fly on your friend's forehead with a hatchet"? This is the new version! When the 2004 presidential election ends this week, what will be the aftermath of all the strident rhetoric? "We've come to expect it!" you say? Then shame on us. Honest disagreement is one thing. Verbal assault is another. Wonder how many people who've never had a flu shot before are in a panic this year because of the much-publicized shortage of vaccine? Ever watch a particular stock or some company's viability ride the up-and- down frenzy of rumors that have hit the street? Did you ever lose a valuable friendship because he or you – or the both of you – misread a situation and hit the roof? Ever hear of a parent who went way over the line to discipline a child and wound up guilty of child abuse?" Like a city breached, without walls, is one who lacks self-control" says Proverbs 25:28. Indeed, the person who wants to make a difference in this world must first learn self-mastery. Appetite, tongue, passion, weaponry – in the absence of self-discipline, otherwise useful things become incredibly destructive. Responses appropriate to a situation are one thing. "Tom & Jerry Cartoon" scripts acted out in the real world make for absurd headlines and bad outcomes.

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