Working on managing hatred toward drivers

I think perhaps I need to undertake a befriending exercise with drivers.

My universal doctrine is not to hate anybody, but I do hate people who drive cars, pickup trucks, military vehicles rebranded as family transport, motorcycles, and taxis (I would prefer an all-taxi world to one where people have private cars, but taxi drivers are the most impatient and reckless drivers in many circumstances).

I hate drivers for smashing their way around the world in their smog-producing, climate-wrecking machines, routinely killing pedestrians, cyclists, and other drivers. I hate them for feeling entitled to do these things because it’s normal and because they pay something toward the costs their cars impose on people and nature.

I love cycling and it was a major part of my life from childhood until I moved to Toronto, but the combination of snow and ice, terrible bike infrastructure, and a desire to keep my skull intact made me give my bike away when I moved here, cursing drivers for making the city a death factory.

These feelings may be morally justified, but they are probably also unhealthy. I see and hear cars every hour of every day and walking around filled with resentment doesn’t contribute to any dream scenario where people stop speeding around with insufficient care and attention in toxic smashing machines.

If I could, I would undo every car ever made and turn it back into iron-bearing rock which we didn’t need to mine and oil which we didn’t need to dig up.

I have tried to follow my father’s example and use hitchhiking as a means of befriending drivers, but nobody in Toronto ever ever picks me up, unlike in Vancouver, Ottawa, and Oxford.

Hence this Litany for Enemies, derived with respect from mindfulness meditation proponents who have done credible research:

“No matter how we appear on the outside, all of us can feel fearful, sad, or lonely on the inside…

May they be safe, and free from suffering.

May they be as happy and healthy as it is possible for them to be.

May they have ease of being.”

I don’t know who narrated this particular meditation, but it has helped me a great deal.

Every single time, however, it is also an uncomfortable confrontation of reflexes which suggest that anyone who is in conflict with me is necessarily wrong. That’s probably the main reason why I esteem it so highly as a spoken word performance.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

12 thoughts on “Working on managing hatred toward drivers”

  1. Driving is an activity. Everything about it is cultural, and it is reproduced I believe, for the most part, mimetically, with some attempts to regulate the culture from the top down in terms of infrastructure and the internalization and enforcement of rules. Driving is a pathological culture, for all the reasons you name. Driving is particular to a place – the norms of driving, because they are mimetically re-enforced, function like a kind of swarm.

    Driving is a problematic activity, for all the reasons you state. At the same time, driving is deeply part of our larger culture, and many people, including ourselves, benefit from it at times – including in ways that are not obvious. Of course, we can say hypothetically that we would all benefit more from a different kind of culture, but this is the one that people are currently attached to.

    The more I think about it, the more hating drivers seems a lot like hating meat eaters. Clearly not pragmatic, possibly not justifiable, while at the same time, almost unavoidable on some level. And, conveniently, Hank Green did a good video on this:

  2. The older I get, the less I like driving except on road trips with family and friends. City driving has become a nightmare and in Vancouver it is much easier to take the bus. There is a lot of frustration and disrespect on the road not to mention texting, calling and fatigue. I hope that you will be able to take a bicycle trip somewhere in the country where you will not have the stress of so many competing vehicles.

  3. Almost 13,000km away, across two oceans in Bermuda, Johnny Barnes in 1986 also decided to put on a prodigal display. He would stand at the Crow Lane roundabout in Hamilton, where most of the rush-hour traffic came past, and tell each passing motorist how sweet life was and how much he loved them. His days had long overflowed with happiness, in his garden and in his jobs as a railway electrician and a bus-driver, where he had taken up the habit of waving and smiling to anyone who passed as he ate his lunchtime sandwiches. He had lavished joy on his wife Belvina, “covering her with honey”, as he put it. But there was plenty left over.

    For 30 years he went to the roundabout every weekday morning. He would rise at around 3am, walk two miles to his post, stay for six hours shouting “I love you!”, smiling and blowing kisses, and then walk home again. He was there in the heat, his wide-brimmed straw hat keeping off the sun, and there in the rain with his umbrella. Only storms deterred him and eventually, the creakings of old age. Over the years, he transmitted his radiant happiness to drivers hundreds of thousands of times.

  4. “The result was clear: Men who drove high-end German cars had “less empathy, they are more disagreeable, and they are more willing to fight,” said lead author Jan-Erik Lonnqvist, who spoke to the Star from Helsinki while on his commute home from work — by bus.

    That result wasn’t a huge surprise, Lonnqvist said. During his everyday life in the Finnish capital, he said he had often noticed that drivers who broke traffic rules tended to be behind the wheel of high-status cars.

    He attributes that in part to “exceptionalism.” The drivers “might also feel that the traffic rules do not apply to them,” he said.

    Other studies had already established that high-end car owners are more likely to commit traffic violations, Lonnqvist said. But there’s been a debate on whether this was perhaps because of the “corrupting effect” of money on a person’s morality.

    The new study suggests its not the wealth itself that corrupts, but rather that already disagreeable men are particularly drawn to high-status products.”

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