The Ravages of Road Rage
"The car becomes an extension of ourselves, physically and emotionally— perhaps even spiritually."[i]
The Victim and the Perpetrator
On May 3, 2013, I decided it was a good day to exercise. I put my bike helmet on and strapped up on a solo three-mile bike ride in Mapleton, Utah. Halfway on my bike ride, a man driving a green Forerunner pulled in front of me and slammed his brakes on to prevent me from continuing further. Luckily, there happened to be no one behind me and I was able to continue my speed and dodge what I thought was going to be a disaster. As I past by his car on the left side he stuck his arm out as if he were to yell something but I just continued.
In 2004, I was working for a well-known company called, "Dreyers Grand Ice Cream." I did a lot of driving back then as a hired merchandiser and sales representative. No company car was ever given to me so I was forced to use my own car with a bi-weekly mileage reimbursement account. One day, I was driving home from work when an unexpected truck driver stuck his arm out and flipped me "the bird". I was a little confused so I pointed to myself as if to ask the question if he were talking to me. To this, he smiled and nodded with "the bird" flying out of his window again. I was outraged! Having just purchased a large Carl's Jr meal, I got the idea that if I pulled in front of him then I could take my large Dr. Pepper and toss it up in the air so that it would hit his truck. Well, I did and it splattered all over his truck. I felt great!
Traveling at the Speed of Enlightenment: A Buddhist Approach to Driving by Dr. Kenneth R. White
This book is truly enlightening. The ravages of road rage, as if it had been a zoonotic disease, have held me under the water for too long. A Buddhist Approach to Driving has been my medicinal healing balm as it has taken my imagination into a world where I want to be, where I should be and where I need to be! "Freeway driving provides the ideal opportunity for us to re-evaluate,"[ii] ourselves since the "the car becomes an extension of ourselves, physically and emotionally— perhaps even spiritually."[iii]
A Mormon Perspective
Though I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have found similarities between the concepts and teachings of the Buddhism religion and the teachings of Jesus Christ. "Be willing to receive the truth, let it come from whom it may," says Brigham Young. "It is our duty and calling, as ministers of the same salvation and Gospel, to gather every item of truth and reject every error. Whether a truth be found with professed infidels, or with the Universalists, or the Church of Rome, or the Methodists, the Church of England, the Presbyterians, the Baptists, the Quakers, the Shakers, or any other of the various and numerous different sects and parties…"[iv]
An astonishing nine attempts have been made to address road rage at General Conference since the late 1990's - current. The first time we hear about it is by the Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley at an April 1998 Conference.
"We hear much these days of the phenomenon called road rage. Drivers become provoked over some small irritation. They fly into a rage… As the writer of Proverbs has said, "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city" (Prov. 16:32). If you have a temper, now is the time to learn to control it.[v]"
The Book of Mormon tells of an account when Jesus speaking to his disciples says, "For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another."[vi] As disciples of Jesus Christ we need to follow his teachings. "For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God."[vii]
Anger is certainly a satanic influence that we can do away with. "We can 'do away' with anger, for He has so taught and commanded us. Anger is a yielding to Satan's influence by surrendering our self-control. It is the thought-sin that leads to hostile feelings or behavior. It is the detonator of road rage on the freeway…"[viii]
In the New Testament, Jesus said to his disciples, "strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life,"[ix] to which Apostle Neil A. Maxwell added, "… there is no room for road rage on the straight and narrow way."[x]
Sudden acceleration, sudden braking, tailgating, cutting others off in a lane, or deliberately preventing someone from merging, rude gestures, shouting and yelling are contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ to be humble, submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things.[xi]
[i] White, Kenneth R. (2013-04-29). Traveling at the Speed of Enlightenment: A Buddhist Approach to Driving (Kindle Locations 93-94). . Kindle Edition.
[ii] White, Kenneth R. (2013-04-29). Traveling at the Speed of Enlightenment: A Buddhist Approach to Driving (Kindle Locations 167-168). . Kindle Edition.
[iii] White, Kenneth R. (2013-04-29). Traveling at the Speed of Enlightenment: A Buddhist Approach to Driving (Kindle Locations 93-94). . Kindle Edition.
[iv] Discourses of Brigham Young 248
[v] Living Worthy of the Girl You Will Someday Marry, 1998, Gordon B. Hinckley
[vi] 3 Nephi 11:29
[vii] D&C 84:44
[viii] Agency and Anger, Lynn G. Robbins 1998
[ix] Matthew 7:14
[x] Repent of [Our] Selfishness, 1999 Neil A Maxwell
[xi] Alma 7:23