The bus driver, Dimitri, told me to write this account because it helped her so much. I told her about it one Saturday afternoon on the way back from Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo. She drives the 151 Route. It's the southbound run down Michigan Avenue. Something about her warm welcome told me she was a praying person, but I didn't know how much my chitchat would help her that day.
A few weeks earlier, my car window had been smashed, and a lot was taken - my computer, cellphone, tennis racket, and some leather books that were special to me. I remember the initial impact of seeing the pieces of glass hanging from the door frame and the splattering of glass on the pavement.
I was struck by the desperate mentality behind the robbery. My heart reached out in prayer for the people involved. I knew that the ignorance behind the act must stop deluding the perpetrators. They had a right to a more constructive use of their talents than crime.
The next two weeks were amazing as things got replaced. My son repaired the window within two hours of the break-in. The police report was filed, the insurance company contacted. Unfortunately, restoring the files on the computer was impossible, because the back-up system had failed. One thought kept me calm and focused: I would not respond to desperation with desperation.
This thought came from what I've learned from the teachings of Christian Science. Because God is the source of all the real good that people have, no one can take away another person's good. God endows each of us with everything we need to be productive and happy, and no one has the authority to interrupt God's provision for each one of us.
This is a radical concept in light of the tragedy, abuse, and neglect that are acted out in relationships. But the more we find the strength of a one-to-one relationship with God, the more we feel the calm that refuses to react to foolishness and hate.
Sitting up front on the 151, I didn't know why I was telling Dimitri all this. But she knew. As she had pulled up to my bus stop, she'd had one of the scariest things happen in her driving career. A taxi driver had recklessly pulled in front of her bus to pick up a customer. In the process, he almost caused a serious accident. Dimitri was so angry that she opened her window and yelled at his passengers. She told them they shouldn't drive with someone who jeopardizes the lives of people just to make a buck. I could tell from the way she told me about it that Dimitri was not someone who enjoyed getting mad. In fact, she was disappointed with herself.
"I can't believe you just told me about not reacting to desperation with desperation. That's exactly what I did when I yelled out the window. I knew it was wrong. I think God wants me to learn this lesson from you." She said it with conviction and kept chuckling that God would make the point so clear.
"Getting angry at the taxi drivers is what I do all the time, and it just makes me more scared of them. When I react to them, I'm the one who suffers." It had taken her several minutes to calm down enough to drive the bus again. But from then on, she would remember those words and know that God was giving her the strength not to give in to desperation.
Feeling manipulated by someone else's bad behavior is one of the worst feelings, especially when it makes you do something you don't want to do. Self-government, on the other hand, is one of the most precious graces that God has given to His children. True self-government is based on God's control of creation.
In the book I want to give Dimitri are these words: "God has endowed man with inalienable rights, among which are self-government, reason, and conscience. Man is properly self-governed only when he is guided rightly and governed by his Maker, divine Truth and Love." It's Mary Baker Eddy's book called "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (page 106). There's a lot in that book that explains God's power as the real influence in life. It's the kind of influence that neutralizes the effect of people's desperation, including our own.