Control your rage, control your life

I was driving home on Thanksgiving to spend the day with my parents and friends. My kids were with me, and as we exited the highway we pulled into one of those behemoth gas stations to fuel up and let our old Beagle stretch his legs.

I filled my gas tank and pulled over to the edge of the parking lot, where my daughter was finishing up her walk with our dog. On the street just in front of us horns started blaring, and I looked up to see a pickup attempting to exit a parking lot, and an RV – parking illegally on the street – somewhat blocking the truck’s access. The men in the vehicles were gesturing madly at each other, and obviously screaming, though thankfully my kids couldn’t hear what they were saying. After five seconds I realized, even though the RV was in the wrong here, that the pickup actually had plenty of room to go on. But it took him at least another 30 seconds to do so – he had to stare down the other driver.

Winstead Hill - Franklin, TN

As the pickup drove off, the man in the RV took one more opportunity to flail his arms in the air as an insult. My daughter asked me, “What was all that about?” So I used it as a teachable moment, and explained that the RV driver was in the wrong when he parked on the side of that particular road, but that the truck driver should have just gone on. And then, as we were able to leave the parking lot and drive away, we discussed road rage. Those hand gestures seemed to be just a step away from something that could have turned violent.
General Cleburne memorial

It was hard for me to comprehend and explain the rage that I saw in those men, and over something so insignificant. It made no sense. My guess is that they were both traveling for the holiday, and the pressures they were feeling just boiled over. I have several friends who hate Thanksgiving because of all the rushed visiting and cooking and entertaining. It can be overwhelming. Still, that madness baffles me.
Now it's a few days later, and as I write this it's the anniversary of the Battle of Franklin. On that day General John Bell Hood sent forward the Confederate Army of Tennessee into well defended works, and into almost certain annihilation. In an event that still defies explanation, the Union Army had loosed itself from the trap that Hood had set, and somehow made its way through Spring Hill and into Franklin. Hood was furious, and let his rage overwhelm him. His blind decision to deploy and advance cost thousands of casualties.   

Carter House - Franklin, TN
General Hood was a good strategist, and he had seen the results of such advances at Gettysburg and elsewhere. There was no way that his charge into the Union works would carry the day, but he gave the order, regardless. He didn't wait for his artillery to come forward, he didn't heed the advice of his subordinates to attempt a flank attack, and he didn't wait for the next day - choosing to advance just an hour before sundown.
The great military strategist Sun Tzu wrote, "There are roads which must not be followed, armies which must not be attacked, towns which must not be besieged, positions which must not be contested, and commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed." Franklin is a prime example of that maxim, and is a lesson that we must be able to control the rage that sometimes hits us all.

McGavock Cemetery - Georgia section
The November 30 date is the one memorialized and remembered, but I think there should be equal attention paid to December 1. That's the day the sun rose on the devastation that had consumed the Army of Tennessee - the day Hood should have realized the true cost of his rage. That's the day that truly teaches us a lesson.


  1. We can get so caught up in the heat of the moment and not even realize the destruction we may cause to someone else. Until later, or the next day, like you mentioned. This is a great post! and "control your rage, control your life" is oh so true!

  2. Thanks for the note, and destruction is the perfect word, whether it be on the battlefield, in traffic, or in the office.