An alternative to road rage

A Christian Science perspective: Instead of getting upset at another driver, this writer chose to pray.

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10).

These words from the Bible came to mind immediately after a driver, who had been tailgating me for several miles on a winding country road, passed on a double yellow line, then cut in front of my car to avoid an oncoming vehicle.

The next passage that came to me was: “Your joy no man taketh from you” (John 16:22).

These words from Scripture brought an immediate sense of peace and well-being as I continued to drive. I was grateful there had been no accident and that everyone concerned was safe.

Instead of reacting negatively, by getting upset at the other driver, I chose to pray; I mentally affirmed God’s ever-presence and supreme control over all. I have learned that we always have a choice. We do not have to take offense at what others say or do, or be an advocate for anger and revenge. We do not have to lash out at others mentally, verbally, or otherwise. To do so does no one any good. The Monitor’s founder, Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote that we do not have to be provoked by others into ungodlike thoughts or actions: “Neither sympathy nor society should ever tempt us to cherish error in any form, and certainly we should not be error’s advocate” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” pp. 153-154).

Instead of magnifying aggression or discord, we can establish a sense of peace and harmony by turning our thought to God, the creator of all that is real and true, and by listening for what is spiritually true about God and how He has created all of us. Rather than cursing or condemning our fellow man we can love, forgive, and bless those who cross our path, just as Christ Jesus did.

The Bible says to “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). This is something we all can do no matter where we are or what we are doing, because we can turn thought away from what the material senses are proclaiming and affirm what is true about God and His creation. Acknowledging God’s omnipresence and all power for good, we can experience harmony and peace of mind right where we are, and thus prevent unpleasant reactions.

While driving, I mentally affirmed that the spiritual man of God’s creating is actually naturally intelligent, wise, giving, and unselfish – never thoughtless, self-centered, or reckless. I affirmed that all of us, because we are God’s children, have the God-given ability to think clearly and to act wisely. We all are, in truth, God-governed at all times – we are under no influence but the divine, which is always good and is the only real influence.

I knew that a dangerous driver is not God’s man. Each of us, as God’s offspring, has “a goodly heritage,” as the Psalmist proclaims (Psalms 16:6) – a purely divine heritage. I affirmed that we are governed by divine Love, not aggressive matter-based instincts or urges. We are not programmed to act in an irresponsible way, to lash out at or injure anyone or anything. Our genuine impulse is for good, because God Himself is good and we are all, in fact, God’s self-expression – not angry, frustrated, or fearful mortals. I understood that all is, in reality, under God’s government and control, always. The spiritual understanding in my prayers had given me a genuine sense of peace.

There is nothing inevitable about road rage. It can be nipped in the bud through understanding what man is as the image and likeness of God. We can contribute a healing influence through our prayers by seeing ourselves and others as God’s loving children, with God-given self-control. Each of us can be alert, wise, and composed, wherever we are. We can act prudently and be at peace, both on and off the highway – and in this way we can reduce harmful behavior instead of escalating it.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

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The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

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