While I was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic at rush hour on I-95, inching my way toward the Stamford exit, a minivan cut in front of me and almost caused a collision.
I stomped on the brake and missed hitting the guy by a few feet and then proceeded to deliver an expletive-laced tirade, accentuated by waving hands and arms … but no obscene gestures. Civil behavior requires discretion.
“You *#@!% imbecile! You could have gotten us killed! You could have gotten ME killed! You %$@*& moron!” Then, I added one more #*!@#&* for good measure in case he didn’t get my drift. (Most of my cursing was in Italian so he probably didn’t understand me. Even I wasn’t sure what I was saying.)
As I gasped for breath and prepared for Round Two, my eye caught sight of a bumper sticker on his minivan that proclaimed, “I love to pray!”
In the interests of getting the facts straight, because I don’t want to be accused of being a purveyor of fake news or fake humor, the bumper sticker actually read, “I (heart) to pray!” You know, just like those “I (heart) NY” slogans.
Well, that made me stop swearing because in all honesty, I (heart) to pray, too. In fact, I (heart) to pray more than I (heart) to swear if you can believe that.
This discovery led me to conclude that just because a person loves to pray doesn’t mean he’s a good driver … and the corollary is just because a person loves to pray doesn’t mean he can control his swearing. Guilty as charged.
I was curious about this fellow and wanted to run up to his car and ask, “Why, sir, do you love to pray?” But I was worried he might pull out a tire iron and start swinging after I cursed him so much.
Then, I considered approaching him and politely suggesting, “Sir, since you love to pray so much, why don’t you pray that you don’t kill someone with your driving?”
All of us, good drivers and bad drivers alike, need to pray, some more than others and most more than a few. And we all could use a few drivers’ education refresher courses.
Quite honestly, I had a different impression of the guy after I saw his bumper sticker. I was more forgiving, even though we live in a society where prayer makes some people angry.
Praying has become a subversive un-American activity the FBI probably monitors. It’s made more subversive by our political differences. The chaplain of the Senate recently got fired and then rehired by Paul Ryan for reasons no one can figure out, except that he allegedly was saying prayers that some Republicans didn’t like, which had to do with social justice and hungry people.
And the Democrats often go into a tizzy when there’s a national tragedy and the Republicans say they’re praying. The Democrats insist prayer isn’t enough and that we need more laws, not more prayers. Then, the atheists get into the act and insist that prayer doesn’t help because God isn’t listening, or more to their point, there’s no God to hear us. If that’s the case, why does prayer bother them so much? (My hunch is that he listens to us more than our political leaders do.)
I don’t think you can ever have too many prayers. However, I think you can have too many laws. Before I start a firestorm, let me say that I’m nonpartisan. I’ve voted for politicians from both parties and generally regretted it.
As it turns out, the fellow with the bumper sticker on his car isn’t alone. A study by Pew Research Center showed that 55% of Americans pray every day and 21% pray weekly or monthly — some of them while they’re stuck in traffic jams and others in voting booths. That’s a lot of praying, and I can only assume they believe that talking to the Man Upstairs gets results.
My personal experience is that prayer works best when you ask for good things for other people, not for yourself. Asking for bad things never works. So as I drove away, I said a silent prayer that the fellow in the minivan doesn’t kill someone. Then, I said a prayer of thanksgiving that he didn’t kill me. Amen.
Joe Pisani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.