Driving home today, I observed an interesting and potentially frustrating road reality. The setting was a busy highway, midday, with an average amount of traffic. In the second lane from the right was a tired, road-worn truck with a driver who looked as though he had as many miles on him as his truck. He was probably 70+, and he was traveling at about 45 miles per hour in a 65 zone.
Judging from the reactions of neighboring drivers, his speed presented an inconvenience to them. But it occurred to me that he had as much right to that highway at his speed as anyone else. It seems that we are frequently in the habit of depriving others their rights in order to protect or express our own.
When you look around, you can quickly identify other examples of average citizens whose rights are violated, often in minor ways. Let’s change the venue to a mass market store such as Target or Walmart. Someone at some time is urgently searching for an item, right in the middle of the aisle through which you are proceeding. You become impatient, issue an impolite, “Excuuuuuuuse me,” and wait for that person or team to relocate.
Go around them. There is always another method for entering that aisle to accomplish your objective. Maybe the shopper is having trouble reading the labels, due either to illiteracy, age or eye problems. But he or she is equally entitled to the space in that aisle that you are. The same is true of the person who grabs a cart that you approached, enters a checkout lane to which you were headed or wants the head of lettuce that you were about to grab.
Rights don’t apply only to us. Because that’s true, you don’t have license to deprive others of their rights for the sake of expanding or articulating yours. Oftentimes, the process merely requires taking a breath and hesitating before becoming indignant. My hope is that Mr. Senior Truck Driver arrived at his destination without numerous folks honking at him. May we all reach where we are going without having to defend our speeds. Shalom.