It’s been a long day; I’d hit the ground running early on this Monday morning and I now find myself in the thick of a rush hour. The traffic is stop and go – so its usual self. Helpless as I am to do anything about my homeward commute, I relax while listening to a Tony Robbins interview. He’s the current guest on a show featuring self-help and inspirational speakers. The common theme between the guests is one of ‘positive thinking brings about positive results’ and ‘take the initiative and take charge of your life.’ As if on cue, a motorist in a hybrid speeds past me in the left shoulder. This allows hybrid driver to bypass three lanes of bumper-to-bumper motorists playing by the rules.
I watch as the hybrid driver (now several cars ahead of me) makes way through a crack in the lane next to the shoulder. Still not using a turn signal, the hybrid noses its way right into the middle lane and then into the right-most lane, which then allows an exit. I felt conflicted – tired, hot, wishing I hadn’t eaten that hot dog instead of a salad, end-of-the-day done. I wondered what Tony would say as I went to the dark side of the matter: Are the tolerant and the gracious amongst us really spineless drones who can only hope to witness another’s self-centered defiance of rush-hour traffic conditions?
I turned on the air conditioning and “cooled off” enough to look at it in a more balanced way. The hybrid driver’s tactic worked, didn’t it? It didn’t harm anyone. So was this driver the clever, determined individual rising above the traffic-constipated moment, taking charge and triumphantly reaching the exit toward freedom? My focus also included the many individual drivers who chose to respond to this ‘me first’ behavior with gracious yielding.
When looking at two opposing yet valid perspectives, here’s the litmus test I use to resolve life’s duality:
1.) In gaining one’s objective, does another suffer an unfair / unjust loss?
2.) Were others to engage in the behavior of that one individual, would humankind be moved toward a greater good?
What was I going to take from this moment as the traffic began to loosen? Point #1 would argue that the hybrid driver was acting unlawfully. The shoulder was never meant to be a convenient shortcut. However, these tactics had no impact on any of the rest of us drivers, our commute or our ability to reach our various destinations.
Now let’s look at point #2: If others were engaging in that same behavior, it would undoubtedly snarl the snarl of rush hour.
Finally, let’s not underestimate how well my fellow commuters supported Hybrid driver in reaching traffic Nirvana (the exit lane). I don’t think we give credit to how kind we are and how gracious we can be. It took nothing from us to accommodate the hybrid. Sometimes we can allow without reproach or regret.