"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten
that we belong to each other."
Mother Teresa (Anges Gonxha Bojaxhiu)
War is war regardless of the locale or participants or justification or size. Declarations of war then, more than commonplace, they are ubiquitous and continuous, something never ending in our usual and daily experience. Road rage, that singular modern expression, is extremely popular is Seattle and area, seemingly nothing at all providing permission to go berserk and do anything one wants to do minus civility and commonsense. That I experience this kind of behavior is unfortunate but why, why does it happen and what are the long-term consequences being subjected to nonsensical violence? What is achieved? What is gained?
This past weekend I was perplexed concerning the insanity around me until the cloudy night sky cleared and there it was, a mischievous full moon smiling down upon its unknowing victims. "So that's it," I said to myself, "it's you that causing all this nonsense." As I have said before, the color Yellow incites the weak-minded, impulsive bulls attacking the taxi red cape. But the reasons behind it are not simple unless you just say that violence, all kinds of violence---physical and verbal and all combinations therein, are inherent to the human psyche, knocks to the head and shouting matches entertaining, making it worthwhile to spend money and time upon the infliction of indiscriminate pain and suffering
While ultimately a promoter of peace, the late Muhammad Ali got his start punching opponents in the face, knocking people down, winning Olympic gold medals and World Heavyweight championships. If instead Ali had become a doctor, volunteering to work in America's most segregated ghettos, his fame and fortune and influence would have been far less though his care and skill more directly beneficial. Again, why cheer for the caregiver when instead, isn't it more exciting to see men beat each other mercilessly? For the vast majority, it is not only their first choice, it is their solitary preference.
The sun was shining. No, not hot but the cool blanket enveloping Seattle had lifted. At that moment business was slow, and knowing that the Pier 69 Victoria Clipper was due in about 50 minutes I decided to methodically work myself down to the waterfront, hoping for a "flag" along the way. Knowing that the tourist pedestrian traffic was heaviest nearest Pike Place Market, I drove that way full knowing well I would be encountering traffic.
Wanting to turn right (north-bound) from Stewart onto First Avenue, I got behind another vehicle turning right, its turn signals on. Like so many other Seattle drivers, the driver did not take the free right turn available but not being in any hurry I remained patient. As the signal turned green, the slug in front of me now waited for the many pedestrians now in the way to clear the intersection before turning right.
When I too began my turn a car next to me suddenly turned into my lane, cutting me off, the male driver, mid-50s, white and upper-middle class, leaned across his poor wife to inform me I was, according to him, in the wrong lane. Waiting for him to move, I finally took my turn, remaining a good 20 feet behind when the guy abruptly leaps out of his SUV, taking a few steps forward, yelling that he had had his turn signals on. Why he had to tell me this is anyone's guess.
All I can say it that this very threatening individual was lucky that no SPD were to be seen because they might have drawn their guns. The question is, how did taking a right-hand turn warrant this kind of response, potentially leading to a serious altercation? It was so outrageous an escalation that my only response was to laugh, his response past rationality leading to the ludicrous. Why would he risk getting out of his car over absolutely nothing? Fortunate for him this isn't Chicago or Philadelphia or NYC, his fate potentially far different.
Earlier in the day I was transitioning from Beacon Hill north-bound onto north-bound I-5 when a driver, again a white, 50s, upper-middle class man, rudely tired to fill the gap in the lane I was entering, honking loudly, shouting, then chasing me while the traffic was barely moving. I didn't react and just continued on down I-5, exiting at James Street. Thankfully he finally backed down and fell 20 cars lengths back. I appreciated his deescalation.
Also that same Saturday I picked up at a couple at a tavern, both clearly drunk, the man immediately ordering me around in loud drunken, angry, authoritative tones. Since they were barely going a mile I resolved to just get them there when his demeanor worsened, taking on an overtly aggressive air.
I then pulled over, telling him he would have to stop or he would be getting out of the taxi. Grabbing his female companion arm he jumped out as I told him his "violence" wasn't acceptable. Calling me a "hippie f_ _ k!" and making an incorrect reference to 1976 (should be 1967), that era of peace & love, he stormed out, denying he was violent.
Being a big guy, he was clearly accustomed to intimidating if not actually beating people up, not used to anyone telling him his rough behavior was inappropriate. That I wasn't afraid of him told him his best option was to leave. I am certainly glad he did. And why the Reservoir Tavern "over-served" this couple is something they don't want to answer for. I called the bartender about their customers but I understood that she wasn't interested in the subject, quickly hanging up.
Some people, even some very smart writers have insulted Mother Teresa for doing what she did, intervening into the lives of the poorest of the poor. What I am sure of is that she never engaged in road rage or drunkenly threatened people. What her quote indicates, since we are all sharing this interesting reality called life on planet Earth, is that kindness and understanding should always be our first and only option. I know it is hard to disagree but violence, being so much fun, what would our species do without it? I think we all know the answer.