Editorial: Road Rage and Community

There is a theme to this week’s paper. We did not plan it or even realize until the other day, it just happened. The theme is “community.” Not in the sense of “we live in the best community in the world,” but more the fact that community is the basis of many of the things that happen in our town – good and bad.

In this week’s paper there is an article about road rage. You may not think that road rage has a lot to do with community, but it does. In fact, according to the article by Anne White, there is a direct correlation between the increase in road rage to the dissolution of community. As the sense of community weakens, anger and angst seep in to fill the cracks and voids that emerge.

The article and studies behind it are fascinating, and we hope you will explore the issue as we have. However, simply identifying an issue does nothing to solve it. What can we do to temper down the increasing road rage on our streets?

This is not so much a driving issue as it is a community issue. People in our town are angry. We seem to have crossed some imaginary line where can now disregard another person’s opinion out of hand, ignore what others are saying, tailgate the car in front of us, and talk over anyone we wish. When did all of that become acceptable? When did a difference of opinion become wrong?

Diversity in all things is good, and our town is no exception. We welcome that diversity because it brings vibrancy, creating a tapestry of differing faith traditions, histories, political beliefs and values. But with diversity you must have respect. That does not mean you must agree on everything, but you should have enough respect for yourself and others to accept when others disagree with you. Debate is healthy and important.

Increasingly this is not the case. Trying to impose one opinion on everyone is wrong. We may not like what another person stands for, but we should still respect the difference in opinion. When was the last time you heard someone say, “I respectfully disagree”, especially about something political? More than likely when someone disagrees with someone else, they castigate the opposing opinion in silence, if in silence at all. If it be on social media, a plethora of opinions will join in, often outright bullying the opposing view. The road rage we witness on our street is quickly becoming an extension of this anger and lack of respect.

In this week’s paper, we also have a special section on Summer Camps and Programs. This is a great resource for those of us with young children. The options run the gamut from weeklong day camps to sleep away camps for the whole summer. These too are about community.

When you participate in a summer camp you are participating in a new community, with rules and expectations of appropriate behavior. We can recall fondly our first summer away at camp in Maine when the first day we had an all camp meeting to talk about respect and community. It was great. We met people from all over the world and from different backgrounds. We all managed to co-exist for the summer. The way a community should.

Our hope is that as you’re driving around town you will become a little more tolerant of those who are not driving as you would like. Give them a little extra space and take a little extra time yourself. Road rage is a form of anger and we already have too much anger in our community. Take a moment to listen to someone whose opinion different than yours. Don’t discredit them but thank them for being willing to share.

It’s the little steps that we take that can help dampen down the angst. It often starts with just smile and letting a car go in front of you.  Let’s see if we can quiet some of the car horns over the next week.