I took my sons to the park a few days ago to enjoy a new playground installed by the city fathers, apparently with the help of a team of safety experts and a host of litigation-preventing-attorneys. There was no dirt, mud, or gravel. Gone was the sharp-edged chain link fence, traded in for a short polymer-slotted wall. Even the equipment had changed. There were no monkey bars; no metal slides; no rocket-shaped-climby-thing, not even a seesaw.
There was one piece of missing playground equipment that, for all my nostalgia, I’m glad was removed: The merry-go-round, or as some call them, the round-a-bout. I haven’t been on one of these things since I was ten-years-old and with good reason. The game we played was simple. About a thousand pounds of elementary-aged children would climb aboard while someone’s older brother started spinning the thing with the G-force of a fighter jet. This resulted in half the kids immediately flying off or getting sucked beneath the thing, breaking arms and noses.
Those who remained stuck to the handlebars usually began to spew their lunches like shaken cola cans, and the one who didn’t get sick, suffer a compound fracture, or could walk the straightest line when the spinning stopped was naturally the winner.
The truth is no one ever wins on the round-a-bout. The round-a-bout I am speaking of is the always spinning cycle of human anger. The eye-for-an-eye, tit-for-tat rotation that leaves everyone flattened on the ground, barely holding on, or staggering about, dazed and broken. Is there a way to stay safe and “win” this dangerous game?
Jesus says there is: Don’t play the game at all. He said, “If you remember that someone has something against you, go settle your differences quickly.” The solution, according to Jesus, was not to assault your enemies with a preemptive strike or to dig in further by strengthening your grip on the rails. The solution is early intervention by defusing anger and retaliation before it even gets started.
You see, before the first blow is ever struck, before a trigger is ever pulled, or before the revenge scheme is ever hatched, emotions have already been weaponized and the round-a-bout is already on its not-so-merry-go-round way. Jesus understood that the only way to stop accelerating anger was to graciously neutralize it as soon as possible. That’s the only real way to stay in the game.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me