The Middle of the Road?

I just recently saw a quote about nothing being in the middle of the road except for double yellow lines and roadkill. My first thought was that you usually don’t see roadkill in the middle of the road but in the travel lanes instead. The double yellow lines are what separates traffic going in different directions. The mental image I have is of a two lane road with one lane going in either direction.  “It’s a two way street,” is the phrase that comes to mind. And as long as the traffic stays on its own side, it flows smoothly. But what happens when the yellow lines get ignored?

We’ve unfortunately probably all seen drivers too stupid, too selfish or too reckless who cross those double yellow lines and drive on the wrong side of the road. They endanger not only themselves but whoever else may be coming in the other lane. Sometimes this happens out of negligence. At least that can still be considered an accident. Sometimes they do it because they believe, for whatever reason, that their needs and feelings in that moment are more important than their own safety… or anyone else’s. That’s not accidental. That is a conscious, willful and utterly careless action. It’s not excusable.

The price that gets paid for their decision and follow on action is often not only paid by them but by others who have no relation to the needs and feelings of the person who causes the accident. Property damage is done. People are injured or killed. Other people are inconvenienced by the blocked road. Manhours are spent cleaning up the accident scene, investigating it, and trying to save the lives of those involved.

It occurs to me that this is a metaphor for “live and let live.” If people would just stay in their own lane and go their own way, not bothered by and, even better, HAPPY for those going the other way, life would be easier. It would be smoother. It would be less challenged. Instead, there are those in the world who are bothered by the fact that not everyone is going the same way they are. For whatever reason, there are folks who just can’t believe that not everyone holds the exact same values, beliefs, needs and feelings that they do. What’s worse is that these people… some of them… feel the need and/or duty to force everyone to go the same direction that they are. Sometimes they even make fun of or attack those going a different way.

This metaphor can be applied to so many parts of life: religion, politics, finance, personal presentation and more. Where mankind seems to run into the biggest challenges blocking our progress and growing into a better type of human race is when those people — those bound and determined to make sure everyone else is forced to think, feel and act as they do – take action in their attempt to force that compliance.

Think about the number of wars that have been started and the violence committed because of religious or political (often the same thing in some parts of the world) differences. Think about the legal battles adjudicated in our courts nearly every day because one person tries to force their will on another. Think about the personal conflicts that occur simply because no compromise can be met between two people and one person tries to force their will on another; tries to force compliance or simply tries to insure that no one will stand against them as they pursue their personal agenda.

Continuing that metaphor, I believe that it’s entirely wrong to cross the double yellow line with the specific intent of stopping someone from going a different direction. On the other hand, if you’re going your own way and someone tries to stop you, I think you have every right to resist their will.

It is wrong to try to force someone to follow your path. Invite them along, sure. Force them to go the same way, no – that’s wrong.

By the same token, it’s right, justified and morally correct to resist being forced to go a direction you don’t want to.

Now, when you see another car coming at you in your lane, the best option is to simply get out of the way; avoid that collision. If there is no way to avoid it, then you have to signal, honk, flash your lights, slow down while you communicate to the other driver that you’re there and going the opposite direction.

If all else fails and the collision is inevitable, hopefully you’ve done all you can to insure your survival of their attack against you. Hopefully you’ve prepared to survive the accident so you can continue going on your intended path of travel despite their attempt to stop you.

Nearly every driver in the world can understand this concept. Remarkably, a lot of drivers can’t translate this simple concept into other aspects of their life. As applied to personal conflict, too many espouse the belief that it’s better to stop, turn around, and go the other way to avoid the conflict; to bow to the will of that other person; to grant them control over your life. That’s no more right in your personal life than it is on the road day to day.

 

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