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Parable for a New Year

January 5th, 2018 by Stephen Bauman

I heard a story about a man from Philadelphia. He murdered a driver who had slipped in front of his car on a congested expressway. Evidently, the delay was caused by several lanes merging into one, and he had been waiting, stewing in frustration for a long time. Just as his turn came to move into the funnel neck, another guy, driving the shoulder, squeezed past, laughed, and gestured with a certain finger. The scorned driver blew a gasket.

Later on, having followed his antagonist, he saw his chance at revenge when once again traffic came to a stop. He pulled a gun out of his glove compartment, got out of his car, walked over to the window of the offending driver, and shot him dead.

Now, truth be told, there’s more than one reader of this short missive who has fantasized something similar a time or two; fortunately, we usually have the good sense not to confuse fantasy with reality. But even so, consider the damage we do through simple narcissistic, emotional self-indulgence in the course of just one day. If you pay attention, you’re bound to witness a murder or two—or even commit one.

I offer this short parable at the start of a new year as a simple reminder that our most useful resolutions have less to do with some grand plan — be it diet, job, or exercise — than the homely matter of compassionate regard for others. Here’s an ironclad guarantee: develop a daily commitment to be kind and you will have far greater impact on the world you inhabit (not to mention your health) than signing up for a month at Excelsior.

Here’s to hoping 2018 flows gracefully forward for you and those you love; that personal obstacles will be met with courage and hope; and that at least one, maybe two surprises are in store…

Stephen Bauman

Rev. Dr. Stephen P. Bauman is the Senior Minister at Christ Church.