“Do not rejoice . . . that the rod that struck you is broken.” — Isaiah 14:29
“Go ahead, make my day!” Who doesn’t remember that oft quoted movie line from the 1983 film Sudden Impact. The scene takes place at the very beginning of the movie when Detective Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) goes into a diner for a morning cup of coffee where he discovers a robbery in progress. He takes down all but one of the robbers in a shootout. However, the surviving robber grabs one of the waitresses, holds his gun to her head, and threatens to shoot. Instead of backing off, Harry points his .44 caliber revolver into the man’s face and dares him to shoot, saying with clenched teeth in his characteristic Dirty Harry style, “Go ahead, make my day,'” meaning that if the robber attempts to harm the waitress, Harry would be happy to dispatch the robber.
There is something deliciously satisfying about seeing bad guys, law offenders, bullies, or rude and obnoxious people get their just deserts. Oh, and let’s not leave out when corrupt politicians, or the one’s we disagree with, get defeated in their re-election bids. Almost daily someone speeds past me in a school zone, of all places, while the rest of us law-abiding motorists creep along within the twenty-mile-an-hour limit. I’m sure I’m not the only one who gloats when I see the offender pulled off on a side street by the motorcycle cop hiding behind a tree.
Once I had a boss who was universally disliked by his direct reports, among whom I was one. Besides needing a paycheck, the only reason any of us hung around was that we might out last him. Sure enough, the day finally arrived when his mismanagement and shenanigans caught up with him and he was suddenly unemployed. I remember how, on hearing the news, those of us who worked for him wanted to dance in the streets.
But alas! Smugness and gloating in the face of another’s calamity seems to diminish when we remember our own shortcomings and imperfections. I may gloat when a fellow motorist gets ticketed for speeding through a school zone, but how often am I guilty of driving eighty when the speed limit is seventy? My former boss may have been a scoundrel, yet how many blunders did I make in my own career worthy of dismissal? And just because I disagree with a politician, does that mean I am always right? Perhaps neither should we be so quick to rejoice “that the rod that struck you is broken.”