by The Rt. Rev. Keith L. Ackerman, SSC
Having been trained in the area of psychometrics, I must confess that I often view elements of life (including ecclesiastical life) as if I were reading an MMPI or reviewing the responses of a Rorschach. My dear friend and mentor, Bishop Parsons, used to tell me that if we could look into a person’s spiritual life we would understand more about a person than the MMPI or Rorschach could produce. As usual – I believe he was correct.
For me, however, now living in an area where driving is an aggressive sport, I have had an opportunity to ponder behavior on the Highway of Life. The natural observation or “outward and visible sign” includes, turn signals, passing on the right, creating one’s own exit off the highway, tailing the car in front of you, speeding, texting while driving, ignoring work zones, and speeding up to prevent that “pesky car” from passing.
It has been suggested that we live in a highly narcissistic culture. One of the characteristics of both narcissists and sociopaths (not always mutually exclusive categories) is the statement, “It is very important and, indeed, mandatory that you follow all of the rules, as long as you recognize that none of them apply to me.”
Therefore, in some instances on the highway there is no remorse for what we do. What complicates it is that these behaviors are often part of the passive-aggressive behavior pattern. “When I talk to you in the store or at church I will dazzle you with my charm. “Why bless your heart.” But when I am on the highway ‘get outa my way, dude.'” The question is – which is the real “me?” Am I the one who creates my own rules for myself on the highway or am I the one who greets people in stores and in churches with kindness? Or are we both?
Do we change lanes in our life without warning those we love? Do we aggressively get around others so that we can be first? Do we think we are much brighter than everyone else – so we create our own rules? When the traffic of our life is backed up do we “exit” – run away? Do we determine what the speed of life is supposed to be and push and intimidate others who cannot read our minds? Is our life so important that communicating how and when we want to communicate is totally unrelated to what is around us? Do people on the highways of our life who are trying to improve our life become functions or objects to be ignored? Do we need to show our “superiority” by indicating how stupid everyone else is. But if they were like me…………………………
Maybe it’s time for a tune up.