Some reactions are purely instinctive. Like if something whooshes over your head, instinct will make you blink and duck – even if you realize within a nanosecond that it isn't going to hit you. Or that it's a Nerf ball or something equally innocuous.
Some reactions are purely physical. If you accidentally set your hand on a cooking surface while it is in use, your hand will jerk away from the heat.
Some reactions are a bit trickier. I've been reading the Torah in my copious free time (ahem), and had last left the volume sitting on the little table beside my computer desk. So I finished my leftover pasta from last night and started to set the bowl down – right on top of the Torah.
You would have thought I had burned myself. I jerked that bowl away from the book just as it was about to touch. The spoon went flying, speckling my wall with pasta sauce (swell, just swell). I almost dropped the bowl.
But what was the first thing I did? Clean up the sauce? Pick up the spoon?
I checked to make sure I hadn't gotten sauce on the Torah. With a kind of frantic, “Oh GEEZ!” usually only seen in teenagers who suddenly realize they've got mere moments before mom and/or dad come back through that door and they've got beer cans all over the floor.
It was instinct. It doesn't matter that it isn't a holy writ in my religion – the fact that I know it is god's-almighty-word-holy to some group of people gives it a kind of sanctity. A certain 'handle with care' stamp that I'm afraid Stephen King's works are just never going to get from me.
Of course, being me, I immediately started pondering how nice it would be if we as a species could somehow manage that kind of respect live and in person with each other; to engage and examine each other's religious, political, financial and ecological views without turning into rabid pulpit pounders.
To agree or disagree and go our own ways saying, “Best of luck!” instead of “What a nuckin' Baptist fat head! He's going to burn in hell for all eternity for driving that Hummer and eating brand-name ice cream purchased with the same credit card he used to donate money to the Republican party!! I'm going to start pounding the drums of war until I gather a lynch mob together to go after him..."
But I guess it is asking a little much. After all, it is very difficult for those of us who are always right to put up with the legions of ignorant savages doomed to Doing It All Wrong because they just won't listen to us…
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