Social Experiment

Seeing as how it was such a lovely day and I was on my way to Wichita anyway, I figured the drive would be a good opportunity for a spiritual experiment. You see there’s this strange admonition in the ancient writings of a Jewish philosopher that has recently caught my attention.

Seems the guy was contemplating the notion of a group of people trying to get along with each other and he wanted to help them out a bit. Sort of put them on the right track as it were. As he began his list of instructions for unified effort and collaborative living, the very first specific he gave them was “be completely humble and gentle.”

The idea of me making such a radical change all at once seemed a bit daunting but I did want to give the notion at least token effort. As I was rolling out of the College fleet parking lot onto the torture track locally known as “South 2nd Street,” I had an idea. (Since it’s been three or eight years since my last one, there was plenty of room in my brain for this one.) “What if I applied being ‘humble and gentle’ to my operation of a motor vehicle on the public highways?”

I thought my middle-aged male alter ego was going to rupture an artery or at least blow a gasket! “Humble and gentle when I have a steering wheel in my hands and a gas pedal under my right foot? Are you delirious?! Dude, you are way too old to start taking those ancient writings seriously!”

Just to put Self at ease, I immediately pulled out in front of a dump truck that I didn’t want to follow for the next sixteen miles. The front tires on the minivan screeched slightly as I accelerated away from the “Slow” sign at the intersection. (It may have been a “Stop” sign; I didn’t have time to read it carefully.)

By the time we crossed the Arkansas River, the dump truck was right close behind me. I notched my speed up a bit, only for the purpose of providing a safe distance between us. Of course. By the time I got over to I-35, though, my experiment began to take better shape. As I changed directions and headed north, my driving began to change, too.

As I approached a slightly slower moving vehicle, I checked the mirror. Car coming up behind me but already over in the passing lane. “Ah,” I thought, “I’ve got room. I could swing over, hit the accelerator and not have to follow this truck for another six or nine seconds.” Then I remembered my project. I slowed down and waited for the car to pass. Usually I’d zig right over behind the passing vehicle as soon as there was a car length or two between us. I waited for a few more seconds and then moved over. Then I left a bit more distance between the truck and me before pulling back over into the right hand lane.

I kept up this experiment throughout the day. It was downright embarrassing to note how many ways my driving would have to change if I was going to be serious about applying this new concept.

I may have to rest up a decade or two before I’m ready to start trying it out in the workplace… Might be good if you’d pray for me on that one…

H. Arnett

About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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