My granddaughter, Noelle, who is two years old today, loves Road Runner cartoons. I have to confess, I am the one who introduced her to those classics of animated violence. Early on she just liked the flashes of color, the booms, and the beep-beeps. Now she takes an interest in the many and varied failed schemes of the Coyote.
Noelle’s impulse is to feel sorry for the Coyote. I don’t think she understands fully what he is trying to do to the Road Runner. I have always taken great pleasure in the myriad ways the Coyote finds to blow himself up. The Road Runner is minding his own business, when the Coyote comes along and tries to do everything he can to destroy him. The Coyote is the author of his own demise. He gets what he deserves.
One might argue that the Coyote is just doing what coyotes do. Yes, but this is no normal Coyote. In the first place, a normal coyote runs about twice as fast as a road runner. In the second place, normal coyotes are not self-aware. They do not learn hypnotism or order rocket launchers from the ACME Corporation. Even if they were self-aware, normal coyotes do not have the ready-money to purchase a rocket launcher.
Besides, for the price of a rocket launcher the Coyote can order several hundred pizzas. And if Papa John’s doesn’t deliver to Monument Valley, then the Coyote can take the money he would otherwise spend on a rocket launcher and buy cases of Dinty Moore Beef Stew, or Franco-American Spaghetti-O’s (all available for purchase from the ACME Corporation). If he actually gets lucky eventually, and hits the Road Runner with a rocket from the ACME Corporation - what would be left of him to eat?
No, the Coyote isn’t trying to kill the Road Runner because he will otherwise go hungry. He has plenty of resources, and enough intelligence to know how to use them. He is doing it because he refuses to change his pattern of behavior. This means he is more like a normal human than a normal coyote. If we doubt that humans are this way we should read Genesis through Revelation, and all three volumes of H. G. Wells’ Outline of History. If we still doubt we should take one day where we pay close attention to our own actions, noting the negative choices we keep repeating.
Like the Coyote, we have the gift of self-awareness, and the resources necessary to make good decisions. God has given us everything that pertains to Life and Godliness (II Peter 1.3). In addition we are told how things are going end, and so we should consider the kind of people we ought to be (II Peter 3.10-11). Peter gives us this warning after quoting a proverb that reminds us of our bad patterns of behavior: “A dog returns to its own vomit, and a sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire” (II Peter 2.22).
In Mathew 12.43-45, Jesus describes a man who gets rid of the evil in his life, only to allow it back in and become 7 times worse than he was before. We are frequently reminded that good behavior will not just happen, and that good intentions are no substitute for good deeds. Just saying “I’ll be better tomorrow,” is a waste of breath. We will only be better when we do better, and we will not do better until we smash bad patterns of behavior and replace them with good patterns. Otherwise we are just the Coyote, expecting that this time the rocket launcher will not blow up in our face.