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Dripping With Justice

When I was a young father, my wife, young daughter and I went river rafting in inflatable kayaks. We were armed with big tube squirt guns so we could soak each other and anyone who came near with ½ inch round columns of water. It was a relaxing float with short bursts of “white water” speed and surprise sprinkles from sudden spray attacks when the sun lulled our vigilance down to zero. Every boat on that stretch of river was involved in this combination of relaxation and mini water battles.

Now in order to understand what happens next, you have to know that my wife has a finely tuned sense of justice. She keenly senses wrongness when injustice is near and, in these younger years, tended to speak and act upon such feelings unless she made an effort not to do so.

The smooth sparkling river was not a place where injustice was expected and so when I rounded a corner and drifted ahead of her, I did not foresee heavy upstream paddling in my near future. A single scene raised my wife’s hackles - a large square raft full of big men whose shirts were completely dry. Was no one brave enough to squirt them? Was it their size or numbers that kept them from the squirting fray and protected them from the fun of the game? Whatever the reason, it was wrong. They could not be left dry.

Some sense of danger caused me to turn and witness my wife gleefully spraying as many of the members of the raft as she could as she drifted by with my little daughter in tow. She looked like she would escape into the faster moving water and that her blasts of humbling sprays would bring balance to the universe.

However, within seconds of their grunts and yelps of alarm, the large raft was on the move toward her and what was once a wall of smooth backs transformed into a porcupine of weaponry. These were not floating civilians, they were military grade water warriors. Their grins revealed that they had stored a cache of much larger squirt-weapons at their feet for just such an attack. They bowed down and a hidden group of young warriors appeared poised for firing.

When I heard a loud but shaky, “Honey, heellllp!” come out of my bride I muttered and turned around quickly to paddle up stream and take my water-whipping. I stroked with all my strength to get between my wife and daughter’s raft and the giant raft of doom thinking the whole way, “how did I get into this mess?” I looked up to see if it was time to switch from paddle to gun and looked right into the eyes of a big man aiming two cannons at me with a “come to papa” grin on his face.

As I got between my wife’s kayak and theirs, I tried a few seconds of diplomacy, “Hi guys, how are you today?” Their only response was to unleash the torrents with maniacal grins. I might have gotten in a few good blasts but I was utterly soaked in no time. My wife and daughter escaped with half soakings down the river and I turned to get my sodden kayak down after them. When we had finally escaped to the sounds of laughter from the large rafter’s clear victory, I turned my drowned-rat face and hair toward my wife with an unmistakable glare.

(wife) “Sorry honey but they really needed to get soaked.”

(me) “Apparently so did I.”

(wife) “Hee hee.”

As silly as this story is, I wonder how many times an apparently just fight turns out to have more under the surface than expected.

More harm is done than is anticipated at the beginning and the supposed justice is mostly lost along the way.

Our reasons for fighting seem so necessary and yet we often miss that engaging in the fight escalates both sides to a place neither would have chosen when they were more themselves.

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