Automobiles, in my opinion, have been the downfall of our civilized society. I think about this often as I commute to and from work. People are mean when they drive. Common courtesy is thrown out the window and replaced by a waving finger. There is a fierce individuality among American drivers. The idea of my car turns into the idea of my road which then becomes my right of way all the time. There is a sense of entitlement among many drivers in which reaching their destination becomes more important than anyone else. These notions of individuality and entitlement behind the steering wheel have given birth to the problem of road rage which plagues our many streets and highways. I must confess that many days, I myself contribute to this problem. Not a commute goes by where I don’t curse another driver who I feel is encroaching on my space or preventing me from reaching my destination in a timely manner. I have been known to wave my middle finger at drivers I feel are exceptionally rude to me and my little Jetta. I have run through more orange lights than I care to admit because I don’t feel like I should have to wait. And I am always driving at least 10 mph over the speed limit.
I’m not proud of this behavior– it doesn’t make me feel good, or strong, or right in any way. I tell myself over and over again that I’m going to do better, that I’m not going to rush, that I’m going to be nice, but when I get in the car and begin to drive, something else takes over. It’s like a Disney cartoon I watched as a child in which Goofy played a calm, caring family man who suddenly turned into a maniac when he got behind the wheel of the car. I’m Goofy. I’ve tried to discern many times where the anger comes from. Lack of patience alone can’t explain the rage I feel at times when I’m driving. It’s probably wrapped up in my need to control situations and, yes, feelings of entitlement. It’s frustrating because I know better. I have higher expectations for myself than the behavior which manifests itself when I drive. I don’t want to be like those drivers around me who are barreling angrily down the road. I don’t want to be mad when I get to work or when I get home because I’ve been driving defensively and aggressively. Something has to change, not just in me, but in all of us road warriors out there.
There are steps that I can take to curb my driving aggression. I try and remember to pray before I take off for work or for home. However, prayer alone does not always do the trick. A good friend of mine once told me that God doesn’t always just take away the things we struggle with in our personalities, but keeps them there for us to work through so that we can grow stronger. So, I need more than prayer. I need to slow down, and I need to keep space between myself and other drivers. I need to start seeing other people in vehicles, not just the vehicles themselves. I need to see commuting as an opportunity to show Christian hospitality to others. I should also remember that some of the other drivers could very well be members of my husband’s church! I need to remember that we’re all in this together, and we all need to arrive home safe and happy at the end of the day.
Blessings and Peace,