How many near disasters have you had on the road lately? I’ve had a few although from chatting with friends it sounds as if not as many as some. But I’ve seen a few accidents of late as well as a dozen more near misses and I’m pretty sure I know why these things are occurring. It’s reflective of other things going on away from the road too.
If you’ve been to Italy, you have an appreciation that traffic laws there are treated as
“suggestions” by drivers. Driving along the Amalfi Coast road, where the cars that still have their side-view mirrors drive with them ticked in due to the road’s narrowness, one sees drivers chatting on a hand-held phone while smoking a cigarette. They just don’t care.
This morning I was waiting for a chance to pull into a road and watched as three cars ran a light that had turned red. One driver on the phone, two that just didn’t care. Visiting Italians? I doubt it – it happens all the time here at stop signs and pedestrian crossings. Things like what to do at “yield” signs and the right of way rules about which cars move through a four-way stop are completely abandoned in favor of one driver’s personal need: to get where they’re going RIGHT NOW and damn everyone else. Dangerous? You bet. Stupid? Obviously. But here is what I think is going on.
Somehow we’ve become a society where one can say or do almost anything with very few repercussions. News organizations make up “facts”. Representatives of the people represent corporations instead. Businesses listen to their own internal views of the world and ignore those of their customers. Style wins over substance. Loudness wins over truth. Hypocrisy is written off as something people who are weighed down by what Emerson might call a “foolish consistency” decry. Why let facts or my previously expressed views get in the way of what I want now?
So here is where I come out. Dan Burke, for whom I had the honor of working at ABC once expressed it in his desire to hire people who stop at the stop signs in the middle of nowhere when no one else is around. While running that sign probably wouldn’t have any consequences, we need to get back to being a society where things do. Athletes who screw up and go to jail should get another chance but should we honor them as role models? Should we vote for politicians who condemn people for acts they themselves commit? Is cheating on your expense account OK or should those who do it be fired on the spot?
I know – this is a lot to get from three bozos running a red light. But the lessons are all around us, right? Am I making any sense here? What do you think?