The Horn of Wrath
“Don’t tell me what to do. You’re not my boss. Mind your own business, buster (or a more magical expletive).” Such words betray the uncorrectable attitude of many among us. Recently, my wife was in her car approaching an intersection. A woman stopped in front of her when there was no reason to stop. Who knows why the woman thought it necessary to stop her car; she had a clear route and the right of way. (Perhaps she was receiving an urgent text from her auto insurance company offering a safe driver discount.) Nevertheless, my wife tapped her horn to encourage the woman to proceed. The woman’s reaction was over the top. She immediately started cursing at my wife and calling her obscene names while also swerving towards her car to frighten her. The whole brouhaha occurred with two small children in the back of the woman’s car. “Nice! Classy! Papa would be proud,” I thought after my wife briefed me about the incident.
Some people seem incapable of receiving the slightest correction. I don’t know if they feel overly judged or if they grew up with parents who did nothing but criticize. Some peoples’ lives are a train wreck and this fact will spill out at the slightest provocation, such as when another driver taps their horn to get them moving. This also applies in face-to-face communication.
But Proverbs 15:1 talks about how a gentle answer turns away wrath. Note that the verse does not implore us to always remain silent. This means our TONE has a lot to do with how our words are received. We often get in such a hurry to communicate that we forget about the importance of tone.
In this age of email, texts, and tweets we may be losing some of our ability to hear the tone in our own voice. This is one reason why physical human interaction is so important to maintain the health of our communication. Will a gentle answer ALWAYS calm the other person’s wrath? No, buy it will deescalate most angry encounters. May God help us use the proper tone when communicating with one another.