There are many like me who get terribly upset at the increasing lack of traffic sense and the growing indiscipline. And while I have accepted that it is only going to get worse, when someone at 11.00 in the morning refuses to stop at a red signal, while I am waiting to cross the road, I still completely lose it. It’s good we are not allowed to carry guns!
A friend of mine who is equally aggressive, both at work and otherwise, came up to me a couple of days ago and shared the secret of how he has stopped getting stressed and angry when people break traffic rules!
It’s all about how you interpret rules. And it all starts making sense when you realize that traffic rules…
…are not rules. They are…
…and guidelines may or may not be followed.
And so, stopping when the signal turns red is really a choice. We all hope that you make the “right” choice, the “red” of the signal acting as a warning sign, telling you that perhaps it may not really be a bad idea if you stopped in the interest of all the concerned stakeholders including pedestrians. But in the end, it is your decision. And so, if it is 5.00 in the morning or 11.55 at night, if you are riding a two-wheeler at any time of the day, if the signal itself is really just at a pedestrian crossing and not at a major traffic cross-road, if there is no one in the way, if you are in a hurry to drop your kids to school, or if you just don’t feel like it today…there is no real compulsion to stop. It would be good for all of us if you did and we would be so thankful if you actually applied the brakes…but in the end, it is for you to decide.
That a good number actually stop when the signal turns red, especially between 9.00 and 9.00 seems to be that much more surprising if you see it from this perspective.
And so, when you hit a recreational cyclist early in the morning, who falls and fractures his jaw bone in three places and you are stopped by a two-wheeler passing by, it is your choice to back up, re-hit the person you’ve already knocked down and run away. It is not mandatory to stop and take the person to the hospital and say “sorry”!
I thought my friend was being ridiculous when he further extended the analogy, but I wonder. In most civil society, it is not acceptable to murder someone…and it is quite likely that you will go to jail for the rest of your life. But in our country I guess, “not killing” is really just a guideline. If you feel strongly that someone doesn’t deserve to live, you could actually just go ahead and kill that person…and in about 2–3 years you will be out of jail free because of lack of evidence or on some technical grounds. It is again surprising given this view that more people are still alive. Thank God for some small mercies!
The more we see a lack of deterrence, the more our rules become…mere guidelines. And this is when the serenity prayer comes handy. “Give me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
PS: Thanks Samir D for sharing your “zen” point of view from the driver’s seat of a new C class.