Working on managing hatred toward drivers


in Art, Language, Psychology

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.

Report a typo or inaccuracy

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Tristan Laing July 26, 2016 at 11:49 am

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:

alena July 28, 2016 at 10:19 am

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.

. August 3, 2016 at 2:13 pm

THE world’s policymakers agreed at the Paris climate-change talks last December to try to limit greenhouse-gas emissions so global temperatures rise by no more than 2°C from pre-industrial levels. To succeed, they need, among other things, to encourage people to buy cleaner cars and lorries. Around 23% of carbon-dioxide emissions come from transport, of which three-quarters stem from road vehicles, according to the International Energy Agency.

. August 5, 2016 at 6:30 pm

Toronto drivers are already parking in the Bloor Street bike lanes

Pictures of drivers parked in the brand new lanes were circulating on social media sites like Twitter and Reddit Thursday.

. August 5, 2016 at 9:25 pm
. August 17, 2016 at 3:12 pm

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.

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Previous post:

Next post: