This I Believe

Bob - San Diego, California
Entered on September 12, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: respect
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.


I suspect I am not alone in feeling a bit overwhelmed, at times, by world conditions. In the face of daunting issues such as global warming, terrorism and gas prices, just to mention a few; I sometimes wonder, “What can I do? How can I make a difference?” There is one simple, tangible, and immediate way to make a difference. I can drive the speed limit.

After 35 years of driving I think I can address this issue with at least a small amount of insight. For over three decades I have observed human beings, anonymous human beings, human beings shielded by steel and glass, speeding across city streets and freeways.

Are the implications significant? I believe they are. I believe that every time a car zooms by me on a freeway, a little piece of me is crushed. Some small part in me is being told, “You are not important. Your time is not important. Your life is not important. But my time, as a speeder, is important. My life, as a speeder, is not only important, it’s more important than yours.”

The person breaking the speed limit, who rushes past me in their eternal anonymity, is saying, “Whoever you are, wherever you are going, I will get where I’m going first.”

I believe speeding is not only synonymous with selfishness. I believe speeding is selfishness. I believe that at our very core, as individual people, as races and nations of people, if there is one word that begins the entire disintegration of all that is good and hopeful in our world, it is that one word: selfishness.

So what can I do right now, today, to effect real change? I can drive the speed limit.

Is it possible to envision a world in which everyone actually did this? Can we imagine the implications of this kind of civility? I believe this one behavior, if we could achieve it, would transform us. I believe we would be slower to anger. We would be more considerate of our neighbors. We would breathe easier and our hearts would be more at ease.

I believe we would take this new calm with us, as we reached our destinations, whether at work or home. We would step out of our cars at that moment with a strong belief in belief itself.

I understand this all may seem a petty overreaction to a relatively insignificant problem in the larger view of world conflict. But I believe this one simple step, if achieved, could in fact, have a reverberating effect. Like concentric ripples from a single pebble in a pond, the waves could reach out into unknown distances, calming and soothing a world in ways that can not be measured or foreseen.

I believe, by simply driving the speed limit, we would all be one step closer to peace.