Open Spaces

Jan 21, 2012 by

I was driving home two days ago and I stopped in the left lane waiting to merge into the left-hand turn lane. There were three cars in front of mine before the entrance to the turn lane. There was no oncoming traffic. There was plenty of space to go around the three cars and nobody in the left-hand turn lane. I would have had to drive on the wrong side of traffic to get there, but as I said there was no oncoming traffic. It never entered my mind to complete this dangerous maneuver because it simply was not an intelligent choice. What would be gained, a few car lengths? Would the left-turn signal cycle through, I would miss it, and it would never cycle through again? Would I never reach my destination? The obvious decision was to act in a manner that was most reasonable to obtain the best outcome. The possible outcomes were much worse than the perceived benefits. One such outcome would have been a crash, not an accident, which could injure people by an unreasonable choice. An accident is an unforeseen or unexpected event. This would have been an unreasonable choice of aggressive behavior. As I waited, one car behind me did that very maneuver. I wondered why the driver would do that? As I wondered why, another and then another driver did the same thing. Sheepeople (people acting as sheep) that followed a false leader? That may be the simple answer, and part of the problem, but I believe there is an added factor.

As I thought about it the light turned green and the three cars in front of me proceeded and I pulled behind the three “rebels without a cause” in the left-hand turn lane and stopped. What did they achieve? I have observed this behavior for many years. Today it happened again in the same spot. It is not an anomaly, it is an accepted choice. The added factor for this reckless behavior is the unnatural living conditions of large compacted cities. While it is true that without companionship people wither and die, it is also true that people herded together get on each other’s nerves. When unnaturally large numbers of people are herded together personal space is lost which leads to an anxiety that can only be calmed by open spaces. We need space to move about and be free to go as we please. People want to be free to make simple reasonable choices and have expectations that reasonable amounts of time and effort are part of the process. The reality is that people are inundated by a world that is compacted, restrictive and complicated, therefore making the simplest decisions such as going from point A to point B difficult. This causes anxiety and hopelessness to build making it attractive to allow passions driven by anxiety to become the deciding factor in the decision making process. This is no excuse for the behavior, but an observation. The frequency of this behavior is increasing, which can be attributed to an the elevation of stress brought on by a growing, herded and compacted population.

Road rage is the heightening of this anxiety into the most desperate unreasonable action. At what point will people realize the absurdity of living on top of each other?

1 Comment

  1. the Hedgehog

    The frontier has played an existential role in our identity from the first colonists. Now for the first time in our history the frontier is seemingly absent as an option to the this or the next generation. Jefferson, always the philosopher of the agrarian noble savage wrote from Paris:

    “…. I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and this will be as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America. When they get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe.” Jefferson to Madison Dec 20th 1789

    How can the collective American psyche recover? Our understanding of ourselves must certainly shift.

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