This I Believe

Mary Catherine - Denver, Colorado
Entered on June 28, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe in being kind to others while driving. I believe I can boost peace in the world by being patient with a driver who accidentally pulls out of a parking spot without looking or a pedestrian who doesn’t finish crossing the street before the sign changes to “Don’t Walk.”

I was zipping along Route 36 one afternoon last summer – before I embraced this belief – when a young woman in the next lane flicked on her blinker and began to ease into the lane I was in. In fact, she began to ease into the very spot I was in.

HONK, HONK! I pounded the horn.

The woman jerked the wheel and swerved back into her lane. As I pulled next to her, she looked over, her face lined with worry. “Sorry, my fault,” she mouthed to me.

Her apology was not accepted. She could have hit my car! Well no, she didn’t — but she could have. “Bitch!” I yelled.

Although we were still speeding along the highway, she looked as if I had just smacked her across the face.

Seeing her, I felt like I had.

I realized that afternoon I was acting in my car in a way inconsistent with my ideals. I was spreading violence and anger. I was adding aggression to the world, a world I worry is already flooded with aggression.

Every day, I read with dismay about brutality in Iraq. I feel assaulted by reports of violence in my community. I struggle to understand the hatred that spurs genocide in Africa. But although I write letters and vote, I have not yet figured out how to stop this violence. I’m often hopeless I ever will.

But, I have come to believe I can promote peace in a tiny way by forgiving the mistake of another driver. I can wave and smile when a driver mimes an apology through her window. I can wait patiently at a green light while a pedestrian hustles the last few steps across the intersection.

I believe that by being peaceful behind the wheel, I will energize a cycle of forgiveness and patience. The person I wave on after he cuts in front of my blue Honda may react with kindness the next time another driver swerves into his lane. And I will have helped make the world will be a little closer to the way I wish it was.