Friday, August 31, 2012

Sanity in two minutes!

Two minutes!

Two minutes is about the amount of time we gain on the way to work by driving at the maximum speed we can manage, running lights, and passing illegally. 

Police did the speed test in Chicago with siren and lights.  They beat the unmarked car, driven across the city at the speed limit and obeying all the rules, by just two minutes.

Those two minutes are critical if you're a first responder, I imagine, but on the way to work?  No, not at all.  Not worth the risks, the insults to others, the reputation for being a jerk, or the mental shape it leaves us in when we arrive.

Drivers here in Southern Maryland are nastier than most.  Perhaps it's a trickle-down from our nation's capital.  Tailgating is common, and pushing rudely through traffic is the norm for many.  Gestures abound.  Think it through ... what is going on in our minds when we drive that way?

... wake up fool, the light's green! 
... come on moron, hang up and drive.
... stupid jerk, speed up or get out of the way.
... no chance maggot, you're not cutting in in front of me!

These are conversations which, if offered face to face, would provoke interesting results.  As a private conversation with just yourself, you only stir up your own soul.

Now, from a heart view, saying those things in private is the same as saying them face to face, isn't it.  Getting emotionally involved in the go-to-work traffic is behaviorally the same as joining a fight in a bar, pretty much.  Responding in kind to the emotions of others, getting angry, focusing it on someone....  It's a character issue.  Ugh..

From a legal perspective, we know we're not supposed to hurt people.  From a character perspective, however, we know that hate and abuse in the privacy of our mind is at its root the same choice; to insult, to put them down, to do them harm.  Disappointing.

Street vendors in Nigeria, a common part
of the traffic scene
Bad driving is perhaps a cultural norm.  Too fast, too close, cutting in, pushing to get in front ....
Djibouti - and a truckload of goats.
The country installed their first
traffic light while we were there.
Everybody kind of ignored it.
     I was surprised to find that drivers in Africa (Kenya, Nigeria, Djibouti, Sao Tome) are actually nicer than Maryland drivers.  Even with city traffic and no functioning traffic lights, they just get along, they make room for each other, and gridlock doesn't happen.  Nobody sweats passing or being passed. Everybody gets where they're going, and everybody else is OK with that. 

Which brings us back to the 'two minutes'.  That's all we get for driving like a jackass.  That's all the benefit there is to behaving like an impatient child throwing a tantrum.  Publicly.  For everyone to see.

What if we relaxed and enjoyed those extra two minutes, maybe with some pleasant music or a little meditation?   We could start the day refreshed instead of burned and fouled by anger.

If we've done it in our heart (insult, harm, verbal assault, name calling ...), we've done it.  It's the same.   Jesus said calling someone a fool was enough by itself to ... well, you know. 


Hmmm; how did I come to this understanding?

Good judgement comes with experience, and most of that comes from bad judgement. 

P.S.   A safe following distance is 2-4 seconds.  At speed, that's a few car lengths, at least.   Sure, that leaves room for someone to cut in front of us.  Smile and let 'em.  Graciously make a place for others; we'll all get where we're going.