Are people more hostile lately? There seems to be frequent media reports
of public incidents. One Internet headline read: “Disruptive Passengers
on the Rise.” The FFA has tallied over 3,000 cases of unruly people on flights
In one report Anita Gadhia-Smith, a psychotherapist, gave an expert’s
opinion of why so many incidents are occurring. “I believe it has to do with
stored feelings of anger, stress, resentment, and a lack of capacity for
concern for other people because of not being around people for so long.”1
An editorial posted online from The Marietta Times reported 100 more deaths
by June 2021 from auto accidents on Ohio roads than by the same time last
year. “Maybe returning to a world of meetings, deadlines, appointments, and
social engagements on top of the accumulated stress of more than a year’s
worth of pandemic survival mode is taking its toll.” 2
Within two weeks my husband and I experienced aggressive drivers who
let us know they were displeased by grabbing our attention with obscene
hand gestures. One such response was instigated by simply pulling out
into the far lane when the light turned green to make a quick turn onto
the next street to access a Farmers Market. Apparently, the driver in the
car behind us had planed to use that lane to accelerate past us and we
hampered his progress.
We had no way of knowing the intentions of the driver behind us, and of
course he did not know we wanted to stop at the roadside market. While
we cannot anticipate the thought processes of strangers, what we can do
is consider others and not just our needs, wants, desires, likes, dislikes,
pressures, and frustrations of the day.
We can put into practice the instructions Paul wrote to the church at
Philippi. “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also
to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4 NIV
I like the wording of the New Living Translation for this portion of
Scripture: “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an
interest in others, too.”
To me the wording makes it more personal. We are interested in the
person not simply the affairs of the person. That is the essence of agape
love, a Christian term defined as “intelligently, intensely willing the best
for another.” 3
I wish I could say I lived this. But I too struggle at times with a
“get-out-of-my-way” attitude. It happens on Interstate 395 as I follow
a motorhome or trucker; it happens in the grocery store when people
place their cart in front of the bags of salad, fruit, or stack of tortillas I
want to look at so I can make my choice; or in crowds when I can’t keep
Let’s call it what it is, self-interest. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines
self-interest as a “concern for one’s own advantage and well-being.” We
are naturally inclined to do this. That’s why Paul exhorts us to consider
others as well. Their need to use the highway for travel at a safe rate of speed.
Their need for a moment to select something off the shelf at the grocery store
without another shopper pressuring them to get-out-of-the-way. Their need
to walk according to their physical limitations.
I may not know the people in the car next to me, but I can take interest in them
and look not only to my interests but theirs.
Contemplate Your Ways:
1-When you experience angry, aggressive behavior how do you deal with it?
Does your response escalate the situation or defuse it?
2-What are some ways you might take an interest in others throughout your
routine day? Grocery shopping, driving a car, attending a festival, or spending
time at the office is not a solitary activity.
1-News report on Fox5dc by Sierra Fox, Travel News reporter, June 15, 2021
titled “Aggressive Behavior Skyrocketing on Planes.” http://www.fox5dc.com
2-The Marietta Times editorial titled “Inconsiderate drivers lead to aggressive
behavior” posted June 14, 2021 on http://www.mariettatimes,com.
3-The Compact Dictionary of Doctrinal Words by Terry L. Miethe, published
by Bethany House Publishers.