BullMy grandfather told of a neighboring farmer who placed a sign upon the fence of his pasture.

“Caution! If you want to cut across the field, you must run from one end to the other in 9.6 seconds. The bull runs it in 9.7.

You’d be surprised at the number attempting to outrun the bull.”

I recalled this story today as I drove down a highway and saw a Department of Transportation sign: Someone Loves You, Drive Safely.

Starting out as a mother-daughter driving lesson, Tammy Myers’ day ended in a volley of road rage-fueled gunfire. After an argument between Myers and another driver, Meyers drove home and summoned the help of an adult son and sent her daughter inside. Meyers and her armed 22-year-old son followed a car believed to have been involved in the road rage incident. Eventually, they stopped following and returned home. After arriving home, a car matching the description of the one followed began shooting, with Meyers’ son returning fire. A bullet struck 44-year-old Tammy Meyers in the head, killing her.

From a Buddhist perspective, we need to step back from the decisions we make and understand those which are suspect from the start. Meyers placed herself and family in undue risk by going home, requesting her son grab a weapon and searching for the offender. By reengaging the offender, Myer unduly increased the level of risk. By grabbing a weapon as a potential form of solution, she risk increased exponentially.

In nature, bees protect themselves against decisions spiraling out of control. They listen to what other bees say; explore contrary facts; change their minds when better alternatives appear; and make judgments without undue influence of others.

Before reason was set aside and emotions took precedence, there was a beautiful and fleeting opportunity for one side to stand naked in compassion and take the difficult road of understanding and reconciliation. With effort and compassion, all of us can shepherd compromise, become a voice of reason in the face of intolerance or ignorance. Perhaps Myers could have pointed out similarities and areas to which they agreed rather than exaggerating differences.

As Booker T Washington said, “I would permit no man, no matter what his color (or temperament) might be, to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.

I’m convinced that had any party involved in Myers’ death taken the effort to be kind, listen and compromise, they might have been surprised just how far grace could have gone.

My grandfather had a caveat to the bull story.

“Had anyone presented the bull with several sugar cubes, the bull would have been a friend for life. Instead, almost everyone tested the bull … with most losing.”

Imagine what would happen if we found another way.

Someone Loves You, Live Safely.