"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

“Caution – Crazy Driver”

By Micky Wolf



Suddenly, “it” appeared. Glancing in my rear view window on the way to appointment one sunny morning, “it” dashed here and there. And then “it” passed by, or more aptly described—whizzed by on the inside lane of the busy suburban street, only to dart in front of my car. This all too common behavior of darting, dodging, disrupting, and downright disrespect, to say the least, is nothing short of dangerous. 

By now we were approaching a traffic light and I needed to move into the turn lane which, interestingly enough put me next to the car in question, which turned out to be an older, smaller four-door sedan. All of us, now at a complete stop. A timeless principle of the road it seems. For all the dashing about in an effort to get ahead or at least move ahead faster, everyone inevitably ends up arriving at the red light—together.

Then I noticed something else: plastered in front of me on the rear window of the aforementioned car—bold, yellow, hand-painted script: “Caution, Crazy Driver”. Huh?

Glancing over to catch a glimpse of the driver—maybe the author of the bright yellow declaration?—it would be reasonable to surmise they were one and the same. She appeared to be in her mid-20s, very distracted with some kind of electronic thingamajig, and blond. No, don’t go there. Let us not assume anything. I purport only to report the facts. In another minute the light changed to green. Away she went, gone as quickly as she had appeared moments earlier.

There is little doubt “Caution, Crazy Driver” draws attention where ever she travels. While her driving habits leave much to be desired from a safety standpoint, maybe it is a good thing she or someone who loves her, decided it would be helpful to issue a warning to others, ergo the bright yellow statement.  

Which makes me wonder, would the world be a safer place if you or I ‘displayed’ caution statements relative to our behavior at any given moment? And if so, how might darting, dodging, disrupting, and disrespect look in our daily lives? 

Darting…

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, when we dart we tend to move with sudden speed or throw with sudden movement. There are occasions when darting is well-advised. Moving suddenly to avoid being hit while walking across the street comes to mind. However, what if we are choosing to move suddenly from a challenging circumstance, or person, because we are fearful, or feel ill-equipped to deal with the situation simply because it us unfamiliar or uncomfortable?

Similarly, what happens when we throw our simmering—or fully blazing—anger toward someone? Our judgmental attitude? Our critical, holier-than-thou way of thinking? Quite frankly, who could wonder why potential ‘targets’ would choose, of their own accord, to suddenly move in the opposite direction? 

Dodging…

If we choose to dodge, we are behaving in a manner akin to darting, although there is one subtle and important difference. Dodging is not as notable for sudden speed as it is erratic direction, mostly with the intent to avoid taking responsibility for ____. Fill in the blank. The “Artful Dodger” of Dickens lore did not come by the moniker without good reason. 

When we avoid our responsibilities, our duties, what are the consequences? If I do not file my tax return it is likely the end result will be unpleasant sooner or later. From a relationship perspective, what happens when I dodge the accountability associated with being a loving spouse? Parent? Friend? Neighbor? Of actually living the tenets of my beliefs as a professed Christian?

Disrupting…

One who is disrupting is one whose actions break apart or throw into disorder. It is true that in rare instances positive results can best be achieved by breaking up or instigating chaos. The emphasis, however, is on rare. Breaking apart the clumps of mature grasses in our backyard every several years is necessary to keep the plants vital and growing. If the clumps could talk as the sharp spade penetrates their deep root structures, a fair amount of cries of agony would likely resonate through the nearby gardens.

Humanely speaking, what happens when the sharp blade is our tongue? Our interruptions when conversing with someone? Our reckless or thoughtless ways of inserting self into another person’s affairs? Delivering a nicely phrased bullet point list of things the other person could do to perform a task my way—otherwise understood to be the right way? 

Disrespect…

Darting, dodging and disrupting, all have in common the behavior of being disrespectful, the action of showing contempt. We might like to believe the person who behaves with contempt does so in a bold, obnoxious and loud manner. That may be true—some of the time. More often than not, contempt dresses in various subtle attitudes: arrogance, superiority, or condescension.  

When I behave disrespectfully, whether on the highway or sitting next to you on the sofa, I not only wound your spirit, mine is blemished and diminished in the process as well. The goodness that God has placed in each of us is over-looked when our focus is more concerned with “being perfect or right”. Disrespect is all about leveling, either placing self above, or pushing or dragging others down. 

Sign or not…

The young lady dashing about in her clearly marked vehicle, “Caution, Crazy Driver” may be doing us a big favor with her pronouncement, although we may wonder why the need to state the obvious. Maybe the rest of the story is—the obvious is sometimes much more obvious than we realize—especially when it comes to the consequences of our choices spelled out through our behaviors and actions, absent any words.

In what way[s] do I dart? Dodge?

Am I aware of being disrespectful? Of others? Of self?

Am I knowingly brandishing a caution sign of some sort? Unknowingly?

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