This past weekend, while mingling at a social gathering, I was introduced to a gentleman whose interest piqued at the very mention of loving kindness meditation. He responded very enthusiastically, exclaiming that it's something everyone should be practicing.
He then elaborated on his point by lambasting all of the "a**holes sitting in traffic", stating "they should just let other people in!"
While I agree that in a perfect world we would all be helping each other out, I explained that we have to be careful in such scenarios not to lose our own loving kindness. We can't speak to the motives of other beings, but certainly can know our own. The moment we begin to become agitated and judge the behaviors of others, we are no longer abiding in loving kindness.
While practicing patience sitting in traffic the other day, I reflected on how the mind gains momentum. Have you ever noticed the time it takes time to let go of certain thoughts and feelings? Unfortunately, it's not always as easy as saying "I want to stop thinking or feeling a certain way" and the mind simply stops.
I then considered how many people might dislike their jobs, ruminating all day long on how unhappy they are at their job, and now here they are at the end of the day, in their car, with a mind marinated in a day's worth of disdain, sitting in traffic, just desperately wanting to go home. All day being somewhere they don't necessarily want to be, and now inching along in traffic in which they don't want to sit. And even if they want to feel a different way, it's very likely the mind has too much momentum to bring it to a halt.
This sounds like a recipe for misery, one when seen as such, can give rise to compassion within us.
Now I'm not going to make a generalization and state that's how it always is, but being aware of and keeping that potential (as well as innumerable others) in mind, as a practitioner of loving kindness, we have an opportunity to strengthen our practice by making the effort to be to kind to all involved.