Sunday, September 25, 2011

The High Road

Photo courtesy of
This being the Sabbath, or not, depending on your religion or lack thereof, I thought the high road would be a good topic.
What is the high road, you ask. That’s the route you take when every fiber of your being is yelling at you to take the low road.
Someone cut you off in traffic? Do you immediately see red, get right on their bumper, and practice your bird-flipping and horn-honking skills? If it’s nighttime, do you put your lights on bright just to teach that so-and-so a lesson? Or better yet, do you speed up and cut the other driver off? That, dear friends, is the low road and it usually leads you to grief.
Sure, the other driver is probably a jerk; maybe he’s texting while he’s driving (which would make him an idiot as well). Or maybe he just weren’t paying attention, or misjudged the distance. I know you’re perfect, but sadly, not everyone is.
But when you take the low road, don’t you become a jerk as well, even if you’re in the right? Do your actions give you satisfaction commiserate with the ding you’ve made in your self-image? Or do you cool down and feel a bit ashamed of yourself? If you have passengers, you have shown them a side of yourself they may not care to see. If you have children with you, what lesson are they gaining from your behavior? And the other driver will still have cut you off.
The high road doesn’t have just one lane. You can calmly choose to do nothing (which isn’t always easy); you can smile and wave merrily at the offending driver (which will drive them crazy); or, if you’re alone, you can loudly voice your feelings in whatever terms you choose. If you have passengers, you might want to tone it down a bit; for kids you can even make up something silly. “Oh, my, that driver is so bad, he must work for Dr. Doofenschmirtz!” (For Phineas and Ferb fans.) You get the idea.
If there’s nothing you can do about it, don’t try to invent something.
What if a family member does something you don’t approve of? Maybe they got a tattoo, or married a person of another religion or race, or accidentally ran over your dog. There are so many ways people we love can hurt us – but do these events qualify?
If you take the low road, you will a) tell the person how wrong they are and why; c) refuse to let anyone in your family have anything to do with them; and/or b) turn your back on them forever. There’s nothing like righteous indignation too keep you from seeing yourself clearly.
When you take the high road you’ll ask yourself why you are against the other person’s actions. Does a tattoo do you any harm? What effect will this marriage have on you? They didn’t mean to hurt your dog; why can’t you let it go? You will do yourself more harm than those you are “punishing.” Will the tattoo disappear? Will the wedding be annulled? Will your dog come back to life? What do you gain except a lifetime of regret?
How many people have ruined their lives because they wouldn’t take the high road? Why is being right so important? You’re right, so what? An apology is a wonderful thing and has saved many a relationship.
We come to so many intersections in our lives, when the low road tempts us away from who we want to be; but trust me, you’ll never get lost on the high road.