May I put you on hold?

Published 7:00 am Saturday, May 14, 2016

Obtaining a driver’s license and then operating an automobile has, in its base form, now become a rite of passage and also an unalienable right of living.
No longer do the masses accept this as a privilege, but a necessity as, after all, there is no bus service in Picayune and serious limitations to other options. Given the profligate exposure to the increasing requirements of obtaining a license, it would be reassuring if the competency of our fellow drivers was on the increase.
However, we humans seem to consistently develop self-destructive habits and patterns which clearly negate the sincere efforts mandated, or not, to reduce our perils in our automobiles. Consider, we have gone from automobiles with rigid, non-collapsible steering columns, chrome bumpers and dashboards bristling with lance-like knobs, to air bags, seat belts and crumple zones.
Yet, in spite of the progress, technology has provided us with “distracted” diving. This used to occur when the children were unruly in the back of the car, but now has increased to anyone with a cellphone. Even a casual observer will well note the “cellphone salute;” where the driver is holding one of their hands up to their ear.
Of course, even the best multi-taskers cannot dispute the truth of this taking some concentration away from the task of successfully operating their vehicle. The media is loaded with examples of the deaths and destruction caused by this behavior.
Yet, the true impact is more than the obvious. We, as Christians, were instructed by Jesus Christ, to love our neighbors, as ourselves. This was not a request, or a suggestion, or an inference, but a commandment. In this, our modern world, where we seem to have gone from the collective “we,” to the individual, “I,” this distracted driving is often illustrative of the viewpoints of many of life’s other viewpoints, where the care for others is well obscured.
Perhaps, dare we say, this “thoughtlessness,” and putting not only ourselves at risk, but those around us in clear peril, bespeaks of the attitude of so-called modernity.
What it does speak to, is the gift of choice; the gift of decision. Certainly, most of us have no real intent of harming others, and herein lays the rub. We, in our ignoring the obvious, have made a choice. Drinking, speeding, not paying attention, being on the phone, etcetera, are all choices.
In Germany, the average motorist does not understand our eating in our cars. They believe the distraction is too great. We may internally justify our behavior or, because others do it, or it is part of our culture; it is the “thing to do.”
Yet, humankind is fraught with making bad decisions. The Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations declined because of bad decisions, and the recovery from the last one took over 1,000 years. This broaches the obvious, as some of our citizens may accept the decline of our own civilization as inevitable.
Pity this, as the fatalism is only found in the hearts of pesky, error-prone sinners.
The great hope, for this our world, is the eternal salvation and grace offered to us by God, through Jesus Christ. However, so many profess to believe in our Lord, but they only talk the talk, as they rarely walk with what Jesus seeks from each of us.
The next time, when you feel it is imperative to speak on the cellphone in your moving car, consider yourself and your fellow humans, and what God wants from you, and for them. Then put down the phone and note the experience of generosity of spirit. It could make a difference in your life and even the lives of many others.
It certainly would mean the potential of making it safely to hearth and home in substantially better condition, than otherwise.

By Father Jonathan Filkins

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