Sometimes when Iím driving down the road, I canít help thinking how close I might be to catastrophe. All it would take would be for that panel truck driver to jerk his hand on the steering wheel and drive into my lane before I had a chance to react. Iíve been driving for forty years and thatís never happened, but that doesnít mean it couldnít. I trust that it wonít, but how can I be sure? Itís a thin line, you know.
And then I think about the thin line we traverse every day in our personal relationships. This isnít a dotted white line on pavement, but the virtual line between helping and hurting each other, and itís a line thatís a lot trickier to stay on the right side of. Sometimes we donít even know weíve crossed it after the harm is already done. The wrong word at the wrong time can send a message that canít be taken back.
People are suffering in silence because of something someone else said or did. Maybe you wouldnít hurt someone on purpose, but a thoughtless word or a selfish act might do the job anyway. I guess Iím just saying that I wish people would think before they speak — think about how the other person might feel, or about what their words might mean to them.
Itís not that hard to do. It just takes a little empathy, a little compassion. If youíre too heartless (or too lazy) to take the time to make sure youíre not doing unnecessary harm to someone you donít want to cause pain to, then youíre not like that panel truck driver who could drive into my lane but doesnít. Instead youíre like a driver whoís going down a crowded road while sucking down jell-o shots. (Or, you know, doing something else obliviously self-gratifying.)