CHAPEL HILL, NC—A study published Thursday by psychologists at the University of North Carolina concluded that all American problems—from stuck jacket zippers to the national debt—could be solved if citizens just stopped, took a deep breath, and thought for two seconds before they acted. “We found that in 93 percent of cases, a positive outcome could have been achieved if Americans simply splashed a little water on their faces prior to dealing with an unfair boss, being out of clean spoons, signing on to direct a second Wall Street film, or answering a call from a parent,” Janet Mallory, the study’s lead author, told reporters. “Our data indicate that when U.S. citizens don’t take a second to compose themselves, they typically charge in like maniacs and hurt either themselves or several million Iraqi civilians.” Mallory said a good rule of thumb for Americans is to think of a plan, stop, and then do the complete opposite.
E.H. Gombrich, in his A Little History of the World, wrote of Caesar Augustus, “It is said that he never gave an order or made a decision in anger. Whenever he felt his temper rising, he slowly recited the alphabet in his head, and by the time he had reached the end he had calmed down.”
Sometimes as the Sarasota summer heats up our fuses shorten. But the next time somebody cuts us off in traffic or forgets to pick up after their dog or doesn’t take our order as promptly as we’d like it might be good to do as Augustus did and count our way to calmness. We’re all neighbors after all, whether we share a block, a city, or a planet. So, let the little stuff slide, neutralize hot tempers with cold drinks, and help Laurel Park Management keep paradise peaceful.