Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Lesson from a Monster Truck

I’d like to think that as a driver I check my mirrors regularly. If I had, though, it wouldn’t have seemed that this monster truck appeared out of nowhere. The truck filled my mirror so suddenly that I actually jumped in my seat.

I was doing 40 in the left lane. 40 is the posted speed limit, and I had previously received a warning for driving over 40 on that exact stretch of road. I wanted to hit the approaching onramp, though, and there wasn’t space to move over and let the truck past.

The driver of the truck didn’t seem interested in doing 40.

For a second I felt like that big old truck was trying to intimidate me in my little Honda. I could see the driver’s eyes in the top of my mirror, and he didn’t look too menancing, yet I felt pressured to speed up or get out of the way. I was willing to do neither.

I didn’t get run over. I was passed very soon after entering the highway, but whether the police stop a monster truck for speeding is their business, not mine.

I realized I too often and too easily suppose that drivers of large vehicles intend to intimidate those of us who drive small cars. Surely some of them do, but it is unfair for me to attribute such motive to every driver of every large vehicle.

Then I realized that it isn’t just with cars, trucks, and traffic that this happens. It is easy in any of our relationships to attribute motive, to assume we know the thoughts and intents of the other person. Very often we do so unfairly. Too often relationships are broken and even ended for just such presumption.

I know I wouldn’t want someone assuming my motivation. I will practice, then, treating others as I want to be treated.


At 8:48 PM, Blogger St.Phransus said...

i'm glad you wrote this. just today my wife, kids and i were coming out burger king from lunch and there was a woman who was just standing beside our car in a very awkward way. as we made our way to the car it seemed apparent to both my wife and myself that something was up. she didnt seem to know if she should play it off and stand there or walk away.

well we drove away and i told my wife, "that was strange".

well in my mind i had immediately come to the conclusion that this woman had the intentions of snooping in our car but i had no proof except for the awkward vibe. i guess i'll need to deal with that one in prayer tonight. thanks.


At 6:48 AM, Blogger Richard H said...

I think one reason we're often so quick to attribute motives to others is that our own motives are so transparent to us we overestimate our abilities. Part of maturity (maturity in Christ - and in life in general) is learnign that our own motives aren't always as transparent as we might think and then inferring from that that our guesses (calling it "guessing" is progress already) about others might be wrong. I suppose it can work the other way around as well - perhaps we can learn that our attribution of motive to others has been erroneous and move from that to the thought that our own aren't as simple as they purport.

Part of what's going on in attributing motive is the construction of a narrative of intelligibility: a story that answers the question, "What is going on here?" While a broader experience of life provides more fodder for the construction of these narratives, we still often find ourselves in situations that make no sense. One of my long time arguments is that Christians ought to work to live lives - individually and together - that make no sense to the world - a life that leaves the world puzzling over a possible narrative explanation. Such puzzlement requires not only that our actions/lives not be explainable by recourse to normal worldly life, but also that what we do be interesting enough to elicit their interest and curiosity. This happened over and over in the Book of Acts, giving the early Christians opportunity to get up and proclaim Jesus.

At 6:55 AM, Blogger John said...

You did well by standing your ground. And your comparison is apt. Some are very inclinded to bully others, and we cannot permit it.


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