Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Risk of Being a Hot Head

By Brenda Black

The blazing heat can drive many a sane man mad, says Craig A. Anderson, Department of Psychology, Iowa State University. He reveals his findings in a study “Heat and Violence” published in 2001 by the American Psychological Society.

“Numerous fascinating psychological processes might be involved in the typical effect of high temperatures on aggression and violence. The simplest and most powerful ones all revolve around the 'crankiness' notion. Being uncomfortable colors the way people see things. Minor insults may be perceived as major ones, inviting (even demanding) retaliation.”

Anderson explains with a probable scenario: “A minor provocation can quickly escalate, especially if both participants are affectively and cognitively primed for hostility by their heightened level of discomfort. A mild insult is more likely to provoke a severe insult in response when people are hot than when they are more comfortable. This may lead to further increases in the aggressiveness of responses and counter responses. An accidental bump in a hot and crowded bar can lead to the trading of insults, punches, and (eventually) bullets.”

Oh, the educated, intellectual, superior species of man gets a little hot under the collar and solves all his problems with fists, a beer and a bullet. Maybe we need to take a lesson from God's other planet mammals who survive the heat with much greater consideration for one another.

Let me offer a few examples. This week I watched a couple of young raccoons wander and wobble their way across my backyard and nearly traipse right across my sandaled feet. They had no regard for me nor the cats that lay watching their journey. And the cats did not pounce and attack the little masked bandits who crossed their feline territory on a warm summer evening. They just let them be.

Same cats, second verse, different species. A young, wild rabbit stumbled into my garage and descended the basement stairs in search of heat relief. The temperature probably drops a good 20 degrees from the top to the bottom. I discovered the shocked bunny sitting ever so still the other morning. And right next to her, the cat that did not act aggressive or hostile. Of course the hare was not certain of survival, but she did not fight or scratch in protest when I hauled her up the steps and returned her to some shady grass.

Third verse, same cat and add the melody of a black Lab. Though a cat will eat no matter how hot, I've noticed my dog is leaving most of her food in the dish these days. It's just too hot to dine. But when I added a few kitchen scraps, everyone was interested. And I couldn't believe my eyes. There they chowed, feline and canine, in a hot garage, on a hundred degree day, both of them caped in black and weary of humidity and heat – out of the same bowl. Not a growl was heard, not a sharp tooth bared. They lapped and chomped blissfully together regardless of the weather.

For Christians the crankiness factor is no excuse for bad behavior. If animals can ignore their instincts, can't we reason beyond the heat? As the sweltering days drag on, a little kindness might bring as much relief as a good rain shower. If misery loves company, most of this nation is in this big ol' hot boat together. Add to the heat wave, political unrest, unemployment and high gas prices and you've got yourself a human volcano about to erupt. But we don't have to succumb to the heat. As believers of Christ we are overcomers of hardships and heat waves, hot heads and even burning national debt. Now is not the time to blow our cool and be consumed by evil. It's our time to stand cool headed and faithful and to keep our eyes fixed on a returning King.

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

“So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” (2 Peter 3:10-14)

Christ is counting on us to keep our cool no matter how hot it gets.

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