The car sat in the ditch at an odd angle, smoke and steam pouring from the hissing engine. The oversized driver, obviously drunk, looked at me without seeing. My questions about his condition were met with a confused expression. Having watched enough movies, I was convinced the car was set to explode if I didn’t turn off the ignition. As I reached through the broken driver’s window towards the keys, his eyes slowly tracked my hand like it was a strange animal. I killed the power and bystanders brought blankets to warm the man.
The distant siren grew louder as did my anger. It was ten o’clock in the morning. What idiot gets drunk in the middle of the morning, then pilots his Cadillac toward an inevitable showdown with fate? What if he had slammed into some random family enjoying the morning, oblivious to the drunk hurtling towards them?
Emergency responders calmly swarmed the car. The paramedic that leaned in the driver’s window said two words I had not expected: “Insulin shock.”
In a matter of seconds, I had summed up this man’s life and considered him less than me. It wasn’t the first (or last) time I judged another man, but this time my harsh judgment was jarringly exposed for what it really was: arrogance. It’s what I do. As I interact with someone, I assess them – clothing, facial expression, tone of voice, body language, hair. Then I draw my conclusions. Before the clock has issued five ticks, I think I know them. Often I am wrong. Sometimes I am horribly wrong.
As you read this, you have drawn conclusions about me. It’s what you do. Today, I confess my sin with the hope that each of us might slow down long enough to see what is in another man’s heart.
“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow