September 17, 2011 in Features

Occasionally there’s a place for in-your-face

Special to The Spokesman-Review
 
About the reader Guest Column

We’re giving readers the opportunity to write about spiritual issues important to them.

Once each month, a guest column will appear in this space. These columns can comment on issues previously raised here. Or they can explore new philosophical ground, or discuss faiths and beliefs that may be unfamiliar to many people.

Submissions should be no more than 600 words. Email to rickb@spokesman.com or mail to Faith and Values, The Spokesman-Review, 999 W. Riverside Ave., Spokane, WA 99201.

Thoughts from our regular columnists – Paul Graves, Steve Massey and Donald Clegg – will continue to run on other weeks.

I have been getting into the face of strangers lately.

I’m driving north on Monroe Street about 10 p.m. and this guy riding a bicycle pulls into my lane from a side street. He grabs the middle of my lane and starts pedaling slower and slower.

My truck can’t help but get right behind him. He turns his head and glowers at me. I should switch to the outside lane but I can’t easily do that because of recurring traffic over there.

He is hardly pedaling now, and the slower he pedals the more I am steamed. He finally stops because he no doubt thinks I am deliberately tailgating him. I brake and stall my truck, too.

“Get off my butt!” he bellows into the night air like a speared buffalo. I look at him in my headlights. He is very husky, and has a large, thick head. He is dressed in soiled, dumpy clothes, and his whole body is much too big for the standard adult-size bike he is riding.

I don’t know what comes over me but there is now enough room for me to pull alongside him, so I do. I roll down my passenger window and yell: “Hey! If you are going to ride a bike, then ride the damn thing! I can walk faster than you are pedaling your bike!”

This, of course, brings forth a torrent of obscenities from Easy Biker. I wait for him to catch his breath and then I bait him by saying: “I can’t hear you. Can you speak louder?”

Well, that makes him snap! He clenches his big, beefy paw and starts pounding on the side of my truck. I simply accelerate away, glad that his bike can’t catch up with me.

While driving up the Monroe Street hill, I get an adrenaline high. I even flirt with the idea of going back. No way can that end up good. I tap out.

When I arrive home my mind goes back to a time where I’m sitting in a college class, bored out of my mind. Several books are strewn across a big classroom table, including a Bible, which I open to a random page.

My eyes fall on the Book of Proverbs, chapter 26, verse 4: “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself.”

Great advice, holy advice – no doubt the wisdom of Solomon dwells in those words. But if you read the next verse, it commands the opposite: “Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.”

I love the contradiction in those verses. It frees you. No matter what you do – ignore or confront – you are doing the right thing. God is with you. You can rest serene.

A second point: I am a Christian and I am well advanced in my faith to know that Christians do not provoke street fights. A strong Christian rises above it all; a weak Christian flops.

I am obviously a weak Christian, but nonetheless I am a Christian. A terrier may not have the might and strength of a Rottweiler, but the terrier is still a dog. So I work on my strengths, which I find on my knees and not in front of a speed bag.

Some “believers” will claim this tale (and its moralizing) is simplistic and self-serving. Some “secular” readers will groan that my road-rage tale became a bait-and-switch “sermonette.” Still others will judge my words as utterly without value.

Whatever readers might think, it’s all fine with me. Like I stated upfront, I have been getting into the face of strangers lately.

Bob Cubbage of Spokane has worked for both a religious news weekly and a weekly alternative newspaper, once spending 17 days in Israel on a freelance assignment. He can be reached at nikoscubb@yahoo.com.


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