Sunday, January 26, 2014

Remember, Only You Can Prevent...

WTOP News Radio posted a link to this article this morning on Facebook. If you follow WTOP on Facebook, you will be able to see that a lively discussion ensued. In brief, "Lawmaker seeks signs to move slow drivers over." And, "He thinks slow-poke drivers can cause road rage."

Patrick Hogan of Frederick County wants signs instructing slow drivers to stay to the right. Because apparently slow drivers in the fast lane make people angry enough to be dangerous. He calls it the Road Rage Reduction Act.

Road Rage Reduction Act? Where is the acknowledgement that road rage comes from people who allow themselves to be consumed by rage? We are each responsible for our own feelings. I'm all for safe driving and obeying the law. But what amazes me is that this seems to place to blame for road rage on the victims. Sure, I have been cut off on the highway, or frightened by others' unsafe driving, but that doesn't make me violent.

Even more amazing to me were the number of responses in the comments vilifying slow drivers and speaking of them in threatening, abusive terms. Not everyone, to be sure. But for a while there the thread did seem like a great place to see who was an apologist for road rage.

Any woman who has ever been on the receiving end of spousal abuse knows the horrifying chill of being asked, "what did you do to make him angry?" Nothing she could have done justifies a violent response. All relationships have conflict. But the responsibility for violence is squarely on the abuser. Period.

In the same way, we as drivers will run into a variety of situations on the road, not all of them pleasant. We may have a bad scare, or feel badly mistreated by another driver. Those feelings are real. But each one of us has the responsibility to deal with those feelings in a safe way. If we can't, we shouldn't be driving.

I share this with you today out of a deep sadness for what happened in Columbia yesterday. The two topics may appear at first to be unrelated, but they are not. I highly recommend this piece at bonnevivantelife about yesterday's shooting. Most especially,

I believe it sucks when someone feels a really bad feeling–be it anger, frustration, grief, sadness. Or it sucks if someone does not like the answer or turn of events, or feels life circumstances aren’t fair or just. Yeah, usually it more than sucks. It can be personally devastating. You may feel like you want to die, or you may feel like you want to hurt someone, or even want to kill someone. But see, feeling suicidal or homicidal is very different than being suicidal or homicidal. How does someone cross that line?

This morning at the 9:30 am press conference, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman said, "Let's rededicate ourselves to making this world a better place. We're better than this."


Yes, we are. Let's begin by taking responsibility for ourselves, our own feelings, and our own actions. And by making this world a safer place for others to do that, too.


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