I was just reading about societies that struggle with reconciliation and I was reminded of a man I met a few years ago. Now I have had some bad days, and some have happened lately but whenever I think I this man, I am reminded to sit down and shut up. It can always be worse.
A few years ago I was having a bad day. Things had not gone my way at work, I was grumpy, tired and just out of sorts. A friend was staying with me who i normally love seeing but today I was just not in the mood. By chance he called and said I have an extra ticket to this fancy dinner, throw a suit on and come over. I would normally make excuses but I had seen this event advertised and wanted to go but didn’t want to pay for the ticket. I got home, showered, changed and was on my way to the event though a few minutes late. It then took me 20 minutes to find a cab (in the days before Uber). If I had walked to the hotel it could have taken me me 20 minutes but being ever hopeful, I wandered the intersections near my house looking for a cab.
Finally a cab pulled up. I got in and gave my destination in a huffy and snide way. The cab driver was very pleasant and started to chat. I was not in the mood to chat but I eventually gave in and asked him where he was from. He said Ethiopia. Oh I know Ethiopia, I said, you had that nasty civil war there a few years ago. He said Yes I was in that war. Being a wiseass I wanted to show my knowledge of the country so i said, You had the largest tank battle there since World War II i heard. 40,000 men killed. He said Yes I was in that battle. Taken a little aback, I asked how he survived. He said that he had been in one of the tanks during the battle. It had been hit and set aflame by an incoming shot and was only save when a comrade pulled him from the vehicle to safety. After many hours he was finally taken to a first aid station and then a hospital. He spend the next 2 years in a hospital bed under care recovering from the burns he received. I shut up then. The story ended happily when he was able to immigrate to the US with his family and he was now working as a cab driver to earn a living.
At the event I could not really concentrate and did not say much. I felt ashamed for behaving in such a spoiled manner. There is not much you can say after hearing a story like that.
We often talk about first world problems: bad cell coverage, rude service people, waiting for a table. Every once in a while take a step back and realize how lucky we are to live in such a great society where such things are available. We can complain but we have to keep it mind that it can always be worse…….. a lenten thought for the day.