A few weeks ago I watched a comedic clip in which an inspector makes absurd speculations regarding crime scenes, engaging in faulty logic that makes perfect sense to her. (“It’s going to be a nightmare to identify the bodies… no heads, no fingerprints.” “I would have thought that would have made it easier… think about it, how many people in London do you know without heads or fingerprints?”) Routinely, her dutiful assistant Whitaker–though baffled by the inspector’s thought process and not entirely convinced of it–attempts to follow her line of reasoning without contradicting her.
In one of the skits, the inspector is adamant that she must test whether or not a handgun has the ability to kill someone–at point blank range. She hands the murder weapon to Whitaker and instructs him to shoot her through the heart. Unlike the Whitaker of the other scenes, he finally stands up and tells her that no, it would most certainly kill her. With a disgusted sigh, the inspector remarks, “And just when you were making so much progress…” and walks away. And my struggle? My struggle is that I often want to be the one that pulls the trigger.
People are masterful at justifying bad life decisions. They can explain away plenty of credible sources that disagree with their own ideas, while simultaneously cherry picking supporting evidence. Whether it’s a trend diet or a matter of morals, they become entrenched in defending bizarre extremes. Then there’s me–open to new ideas, but often willing to do the research that others aren’t. I definitely have my own prejudices, but I am learning to overcome them. But sometimes I know when these folks are wrong and that the consequences will eventually be serious. Sometimes I get the opportunity to say something. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I say something anyway. Usually, I get the same disgusted reaction as poor Whitaker received and somewhere in my depraved heart I want to pull the trigger and show them how wrong they are. I could truthfully say that this is because I want them to get a glimpse of where that path leads before it’s too late. I could say with equal veracity that this is because I hate to be belittled and discounted–a far less admirable trait.
It’s a remarkable feeling of helplessness that settles over me, and shame for the thought of wishing ill on anybody. I should never need to be right to the extent that I’m willing to hurt others. And in more serious issues, where there’s an urgency that the person stop the destructive behavior, it’s not my place to say who ought to experience consequences or when they ought to experience them. God grant me the grace to be a let-it-go, I’ll-still-be-here-to-help-when-it’s-over, swallow-my-pride sort of person. I know I’ll always need those folks in my life.