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LESSONS FROM NORTH AMERICAN ROADS - THOUGHT FOR THE DAY BBC RADIO ULSTER 31.10.12

4 Way Stop

Let me transport you to the roads of Vancouver in Canada. As another impatient Canadian driver honks his horn, and makes to shout obscenities through windscreens, I want to stop him and tell him how much I am looking forward to treating him as he is treating me when he is trying to find his way around Belfast! The roundabout at The Royal in rush hour will sort you out pal!

 

The psychological and social implications of cars are frightening. There we are in this little confined space with our entire worldview defined by what we are thinking and where we are going. How dare he turn left here and slow me down. Does she not know I am late? Are they not aware that I am trying to decipher a foreign city’s road signs on the wrong side of the road with two young children
screaming in my ear!?

 

In our cars, we are Kings and Queens. We rule the world and everyone should do as we need them to do. There is no understanding of the crisis going on in the cars around us. There are no rights for those drivers. They need to serve my needs of getting to where I want to go. Anything short of that leads to finger gestures, bad language and road rage violence!

 

Transporting you back to our little piece of Ireland, we live like we are in cars without regard for the stories and histories around us, the hopes, fears and hurt of those who are travelling alongside us. Our world views are confined making us feel we are totally right and they are wrong if they are not serving our ambitions and dreams. If they get in the way of us reaching our destinations then they can be cut off.

 

Jesus calls for another way. His revolutionary plan for peace was forsaking our own egos to serve, forgive and love the guys in the other world view cars. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” he said. He knew they would change the world for the good of everyone in every car.

 

Bizarrely the North Americans have such a place on their roads. At crazy places called 4-Way Stops, every driver is disarmed from his arrogant self seeking and in order for this road junction to function, everyone needs to be heard, given time, and served. You literally give up yourself to let others go. When we observe such an alternative to normal road attitudes driving is made possible, easy and thoroughly pleasant. What about 4-Way Stops, on the roads of our divisions, all over Ireland?

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