Finding unity in a world of competing interests

RIDING MY BIKE to the office the other day, I used the time to think about the challenges of polarization in society. A mental image hit me head-on when I came to a busy intersection: four cars approaching at the exact same moment, from four different directions. In that situation, I wondered, Who has the right of way? In the social context, that image translates: Who has the right way of thinking?

Even though drivers generally know the rules of the road, they are increasingly too impatient to follow those rules. As a matter of fact, sometimes negotiating German intersections seems as risky as casino gambling. The question of who goes first should be a matter of eye-to-eye communication, of patience and thinking beyond one's own interests. But all too often, one driver will take off without any communication, perhaps because he or she thinks the communication thing is taking a bit too long.

From anger to peace of mind
April 19, 2004

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