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Opinion: The Mulch in My Own Eye

A local church leader explains why it's time to buy less, live more; judge less, love more.

Pastors take odd days off. In fact, our schedules are often insane by normal standards, and it is not at all uncommon to find us literally working ourselves to death. So it is that my congregation holds me accountable for taking my Fridays off, and so it was that I ended up in Parking Lot 27, sometimes known as Sunrise Highway. It was just a couple of weeks ago, and I was on my way to Home Depot to pick up supplies in my effort to reclaim my Parsonage's yard.

As a boy, I despised my father every time I was assigned a chore in the garden, hated everything about yard work, so it is only logical that I spend my time now planting and weeding.

The accident was not particularly gruesome as these things go. One truck tipped over, a Coke truck several feet shorter than when it started the day, and a car, seemingly intact, way up the embankment.

But there were no bodies covered in sheets, no frantic first responders, just a traffic nightmare on an otherwise sunny summer morning.

The highway was still closed as I headed home, so I logged onto a local newspaper website to see of they had the story. The first details were sketchy, simply identifying the vehicles involved and the location. But there was already a comment, a diatribe (or so it seemed to me) against trucks and truck drivers. I responded, and would like to share the thrust of my response here.

You see, there was nothing in the article to indicate that either truck had caused the accident, and I've seen some pretty nutty drivers behind the wheels of cars on our local highways.

So to start with, we had a classic rush to judgment without all the facts. Can you imagine trying to drive those big rigs around Long Island on a schedule? Surely a little compassion is called for in this case.

But something far bigger bothered me, something I wrestle with myself when I'm tempted to anger against trucks and their drivers. You see, I was on my way to Home Depot to buy “stuff.” Like most Americans, I have a house full of stuff, much of it stuff I don't need.

Some of it I didn't even need when I bought it, but I was manipulated by advertisers to believe I'd be happier and more fulfilled if I bought it. But let's accept for a moment that my run to the big box store that Friday was legit, that my purchases, intended for my garden, were part of my good stewardship of God's creation. Even if everything I bought there was for the good, it was all shipped on a truck.

We complain about the trucks on the road, but do we ever think that they are there because of us? Our unbridled lust for cheap consumer goods puts those rampaging trucks on our highways, necessitates countless waste collection runs.

What I wanted to say to the author of the comment criticizing the trucks was a variation on a line from the Christian scripture: How can I see the splinter in my brother's eye when I have a bag of Home Depot mulch in my own?

Wouldn't it be awesome if we could buy less, live more; judge less, love more! In the interim, we better reconcile ourselves to sharing the roads with trucks.

The Rev. J. Gary Brinn is Pastor, Sayville Congregational United Church of Christ.

Bob Kaufer July 26, 2012 at 05:24 PM
We can shop in town and not have to deal with traffic
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gerbera December 12, 2012 at 10:04 AM
The number one point to save money is to not buy items just because it is cheap. Dont buy anything unless you need it.
Sam Crawford January 08, 2013 at 06:01 PM
Regarding the diatribe against trucks... I have seen similar comments in many forums, and indeed there is a rush to judgment. No doubt there are instances where the truck driver is at fault. There are just as many, or more, where another driver -- of a much smaller vehicle -- is at fault. A smaller vehicle weaving in and out of traffic, cutting in front of a big truck, wreak a great deal of havoc on roads and highways. I certainly agree with Rev Brinn's main point about our need to accumulate stuff. I find a secondary message in his comments, that we frequently are much too quick to judge.

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