Have we all allowed our goats to be stolen or is there something bad in the water? Why are we so angry and hostile towards each other? Have you noticed the number of road rage incidents taking place in our area and across the country? Some days when I scroll down the pages on Facebook, many of the Facebook members with whom I am connected will have a meltdown. They might have been hit by a negative word or two and they begin to react verbally with explosively hot words. If it is someone that I know I usually write on the page, “Don’t let anybody get your goat.”

I read some place that many ages ago the farmers were told and believed that if a goat was placed in the midst of their horses that for some unknown reason the presence of the goat would keep the animals calm. It was also rumored that if farmers had a serious disagreement with each other that could not be settled after much feuding, the most offended farmer would slip out during the night and remove the other farmer’s goat, leaving the horses without the calming presence of the goat and the horses would be easily spooked and actually stampede at the least bit of unaccountable noise or action. Later some said that this has also been used in horse races by racehorse owners to cause competing horses to lose the race.

After reading that truth or myth I am always inclined to ask, “Who has stolen our goats?” People, have you checked the angry temperature of our city, state and country? There is very little to none of the civility we once had. Some of the most important attributes as people we should have are tolerance, gentleness and kindness. Have you noticed how we can go from 0 to 360 degrees by just looking at another person who may be different in identity or ideology?

I was noticing on the evening news the other day how one man was so bothered about the driver in another car cutting in on him that he stopped his car, got out and went to the car in front and confronted the driver. That driver got out of his car, which was still in drive and running. He attempted to chase the man back to his car, but he looked back and saw that his car was rolling with about four people in it. He caught his car, but by this time one of his passengers had lost his emotional control and had gotten out and gone after the other driver. The passenger ran up to the man as he got back into his car, hit him in the head with all his running force and knocked him to the ground. The man later died, having never regained consciousness. The passenger and the driver in the car up front left the scene with no consideration about the result of this out-of-control momentary anger which is now going to cause sleepless nights and jail time. One family has lost a loved one to death, and for what?

There once was a time when most people in our circle had self-control and would be like the goat in the presence of the horses and say something like, “Man, just ignore that and do not respond.” Most times that would jerk us back to reality if indeed we were about to lose control. Today, because we all seemed to have lost our ability to be like Jesus, we have a problem with not saying a mumbling word. Many people will say “Oh, man! I would not let her or him talk to me like that!” Or, if we are driving, the other individual might say, “Don’t let him get in front of you.”

I am reminded of a married couple. The husband and wife were very different in personality, but they fell in love and got married. The wife was very vocal and the husband quiet, wanting peace at any cost. They had a baby late in life and the little girl grew up witnessing the two quarreling for some years. The wife was constantly bickering about something as just anything made her unhappy. For a while the husband would come back with words which would only escalate into an all-out verbal war. After the little girl got older and had become Daddy’s little girl, when these verbal brawls would begin, she would saddle up to Daddy and when Mom was not noticing she would touch him on his leg and whisper to Daddy, “Daddy, just don’t say anything.” If she thought that Daddy did not hear her, she would saddle up closer and repeat, “Don’t say anything, Daddy.” She had learned that it is very hard to argue with one’s self for any length of time.

I said all that to say this: Sometimes we need a voice to whisper to us, “Don’t say anything, don’t do anything.” We do not have to dignify everything with words or action. Everyone wants to be the victim, and that means he or she has to fight his way to the top of the pile or get crushed under the pile. Once we accept Yeshua as our Peace, we look at life in a different light: “You win, I win,” not “If you win, I lose.” We once generally saw life as a “You win, I win.” I am constantly reminded of John Donne’s poem, which states that, “No man is an island unto himself.” He states, “Every man is ... a part of the main.” If one part breaks off from the main body and floats into the ocean, all are affected by that loss. Let us get our goat back. He is inside each of us and has not been stolen. He may be sleeping, but we can wake him up.

Willie Mae Samuel is a playwright

and a director in Rome.