Road Rage

You have heard the awful stories recounted many times.  Someone loses control to road rage and shoots and kills another driver or some variation with the same outcome — one man, incensed, murders another, a total stranger, with no reasonable justification.

And our common reaction to this scenario is stark horror that anyone could be so cruel as to willfully murder a perfect stranger that way.  But I would submit the murderer is also a victim here.  The roads are really a disaster lying in wait for the next impatient driver, and we are all that impatient driver — we are all in a hurry to get where we are going fast, and yet the roads are often filled beyond their capacity, particularly at rush hour.  So they are a trap waiting in the wings for all of us — we are all susceptible to being swept away by road rage, this very modern form of demented behavior.

The Roman philosopher and politician Lucius Annaeus Seneca noticed that there was an inordinate amount of anger at the street level in overcrowded Rome.  So he pondered to himself the philosophical question, Why are people so damn angry?  His answer: They do not anticipate difficulties very well, that is, they assume that doing just about everything will be more or less effortless and without problems, which very clearly is often not the case.  Thus the anger.

Fast forward 2,000 years to modern American and its high-speed highways and byways, which are frequently packed with vehicles where slow downs and even total blockages are frequent events.  Add to that mix that there are drivers with very different skill levels and that many drive at reckless speeds, with very reckless tactics.  Needless to say, such a mixture is loaded with potential problems for virtually everyone who gets behind the wheel.

So a word of advice — road rage is not something that impacts only the mentally unstable.  Given just the right set of difficulties and circumstances, it can get under your skin as well because, as Seneca noted, we do not anticipate difficulties very well, and yet our highways and byways are loaded with them, even extremely hazardous ones.  If you drive at all, you are not immune to this modern demented behavior, so don’t assume that you are.

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