Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Peacemaking Isn't Easy or Obvious

A couple of our folks got a ride from a neighbor, whose name is Mort (name changed). Our folks brought their dog with them, who got out of the truck and ran over to another dog, who was easily four times his size. The two dogs scuffled a bit, and the owners separated them. Mort, however, was disturbed by the sight of a small dog he loved being "attacked" by another, larger dog. Mort is diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and he just snapped. He talked about getting his .44 and shooting the other dog. When the owner of this dog heard this, he began to threaten Mort. And there was much yelling and many threats, even threats to kill people from Mort.

At this point I got involved and tried to talk to Mort about how we don't allow threats on the church property to which he responded, "I can say whatever I want. And if you try to stop me, I'll shoot you too!" I've been threatened before and it didn't mean much to me, but others in the church were very upset and they were ready to gang up on Mort for threatening the pastor. Then Mic, who is often problematic, goes right up to Mort with his hands outstretched and says, "Hey, it's okay, we don't want any trouble. We're not going to hurt you. We just want everything to calm down." Mic was so clearly peaceable and sincere that Mort decided not to make any more threats and just to leave to contact the police. Since Mort was speaking in such a crazy manner, we decided that him contacting the police wasn't much of a threat. Mort drove away. His friends said, "Did Mort just drive away and leave us? He has our bikes in his truck!' I told them that it was better for him to leave right now.

The incident seemed to be over, but Mort returned in just five minutes. I yelled at everyone, "Okay, just back off. I'll deal with it myself, everyone stay away." However, I was thinking that the time Mort was gone was just long enough for him to get a gun and to make his threats real. I didn't want anyone else hurt, and I didn't want anyone else to make the situation worse by trying to threaten Mort. Everyone backed off, and I approached Mort, saying, "Okay, Mort..." But Mort just looked at me with clear, innocent eyes and an open expression on his face and he said, "Hi! How are you doing?" I was surprised for a bit, but then I noticed that he was walking with a cane and a limp when before he was walking with no problem.

I responded, "Hi, Mort. Were you looking for your friends?" He replied, "Why, yes I am. I was supposed to pick them up." I said, "Why don't I go get them for you. They'll be right out." And I collected them and got them back with Mort and he drove them away, completely peacefully.

I am pretty certain that Mort isn't just bi-polar, but also has multiple personality disorder. If he had been approached with threats, he would have reverted back to the personality that was threatening. Instead, a peaceful approach allowed him to remain peaceful, even after his threats.

Our church is unique, but we have some interesting times. Very interesting.

1 comment:

Steve Rush said...

A wise man once wrote that, in my own paraphrase, a peacable answer turns away wrath.

An inspiring story, Steve; thanks for sharing!