In July 2007 the Vatican declared that driving in automobiles can be “an occasion for sin” and issued “Ten Commandments.” These came in the form of a 59-page document released by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, entitled “Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road.” Among the potential transgressions listed were road rage and other immoral behavior, including excess speed, reckless passing, cursing and rudeness. Remember, it urged readers, that even when there is no one sitting next to them, they are never alone. It struck a note with millions of people who’d been raised in the Catholic faith. I was not one of them.
In all likelihood, I am probably one of the few people on earth raised as an existentialist. My mother was an advocate of Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky, Camus, and Sartre. While other kids were being told to turn the other cheek I was being told that, “the only pain we can avoid in life is the pain that comes from avoiding life.” I spent the first five years of my life in Berkley, California, where my father was doing his doctorate. I was a counter culture kid who was taken on protest marches, fell into the reflecting pool, went to People’s Park and played with TKTK’s kids. My mother was determined that I would be free of the freedom-stifling dogma that had screwed up the first half of the twentieth century. I was a Camus kid.
As a result, I’ve spent most of my time convinced that “each individual—not society or religion—is solely responsible for giving meaning to life and living it passionately and sincerely” and that I was failing to do so. I’m also enthusiastic about religious holidays that feature turkey, such as Christmas and Easter. And so it was with mixed emotions that I downloaded The “Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road” from the Vatican website. Like the other Ten Commandments, they made a lot of sense but seemed almost impossible to obey completely.
Ten Commandments for Drivers
- You shall not kill.
- The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.
- Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.
- Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.
- Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination and an occasion of sin.
- Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.
- Support the families of accident victims.
- Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.
- On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.
- Feel responsible toward others.
It was an impressive list, one that covered a lot of the pain and suffering associated with commuting. After all, most drivers feel that getting to and from work would be a breeze, were it not for all the other drivers. There was not too much concern about adhering to Commandment Number One. I fear imprisonment almost as much as I fear being buried alive or poisoned. Even if I were free to kill at will I doubt I would do so. It seems like a lot to take on. Killing also requires either brute strength or methodical preparation – neither of which are my strong suits. I decided to make some quick notes before my first day.
- You shall not kill. SO FAR SO GOOD.
- The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm. ALWAYS TRY TO AVOID DOING MORTAL HARM. COMMUNION WITH PEOPLE MORE PROBLEMATIC.
- Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events. OKAY
- Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents. WILL DO WITHIN LEGAL PARAMETERS
- Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination and an occasion of sin. I DRIVE A MINIVAN
- Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so. DONE
- Support the families of accident victims. I NORMALLY AVOID UNHAPPY PEOPLE. THEY MAKE ME UNCOMFORTABLE.
- Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness. WOULD LOVE TO DO THIS! MINUS THE FORGIVENESS.
- On the road, protect the more vulnerable party. DONE
- Feel responsible toward others. THIS GOES AGAINST YEARS OF THERAPY
To be continued…..