My dog and I barely escaped being hit this morning on our walk when a driver blew thorough the intersection at which we were about half way across. Now this is no little, hidden intersection with a stop signed that might be missed. It is a well marked intersection with two blinking red lights and an illuminated STOP sign hung in the middle over the road. Fortunately, I could hear that the car was not slowing and pulled my dog back to safety. I yelled at the driver, who had his driver-side window half way down but he made no indication that he cared. I’m sure that had the window been all the way down he might have even flipped me the bird.
After I thanking God for once again saving me from danger, I thought about this particular incident and other instances that I see every week of drivers ignoring signs either to stop at an intersection or not to make certain turns. The word that kept popping into my head was disdain. While a certain number of these incidents might be attributed to distracted drivers not seeing the signs, most of them are obviously cases of people who see he signs but choose to ignore them. They are showing disdain for our laws and for the safety of others.
I looked up disdain, just to make sure that it is the appropriate word to associate with these people. Disdain is defined as –dis·dain
the feeling that someone or something is unworthy of one’s consideration or respect; contempt.
consider to be unworthy of one’s consideration.
I think the word fits and it also points to a personality flaw in these people as a root cause – their egos. To disdain something or someone is to consider yourself to be so superior that you may judge them. Instead of taking a position like that of Pope Francis who said, ”Who am I to judge?” these people have taken the position of, ”I’ll be the judge of that. I don’t need your stinking laws and signs; I’ll decide whether to stop or turn at the sign or not.” They are showing disdain for the rest of society and for common decency. I suspect those who stormed the Capital Building a while back were showing their disdain for our county’s laws, the law makers and the rules of civil behavior.
In truth everything and everyone deserves to be treated with respect and consideration be given to how to interact with them. To act with disdain is to isolate oneself from the rest of society, to set yourself apart from, and above, the laws, rules or mores of that society. A society exists for the common good, but it can only exist if those within it abide by the rules and expectations of the rest of the group. If each of use can no longer expect that a person driving a car will abide by the stop signs or no turn on red signs or whatever instructions are clearly posted for the goods of the society, then we devolve into anarchy.
So the next time you are tempted to make that turn on red or roll through that stop sign and keep going, remember that you are showing disdain. Is that what you really want your kids to see or other to see from you? It is not just a reflection on your behavior, which is bad enough; it is a lesson that you are teaching others who are watching, an example that can have lasting bad effects on young minds. Try showing them the opposite – respect. Respect for the laws of our society and for others within that society.
I leave you with the words of the song R-E-S-P-E-C-T by Aretha Franklin from the1980 movie The Blues Brothers. Show a little respect for the rules of our society when you get behind the wheel and all the time.