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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Curiosity is a Virtue

There are two types of people in the world.

When you're driving on the highway and you're stuck in sloth-y traffic, then you finally break through, while passing the cause of the jam, do you drive slowly, pausing further to look directly at the scene of the accident? Or do you press on, very intentionally looking forward and speeding up because rubber-neckers are an evil root and you don't want to a) hold up the people stuck in their slow-moving cars behind you and 3) you have places to be and you're already late?

Last week it occurred to me that I was the second type of person, but that maybe I'd misunderestimated the merits of the first.

Maybe people who pause and look, at a car accident or even highway construction workers, are more present, more fully embracing of their own and others' humanity, than people who are bound by the phantom of time and the obsession with moving forward.

What's so great about driving faster (or even assisting those behind you in getting free so they can drive faster) when someone has been hurt, or someone is working hard in a dangerous setting, or someone's physically okay but their car's been totalled and their insurance is inadequate? Someone, some person, not some appointment or sense of proper driving etiquette.

So, maybe next time I'll look, not strain to resist seeing for the sake of efficiency.

3 comments:

mccobbey said...

That's a thought. But the two reasons I don't rubberneck is :

1) I don't want to see something gross or sad or whatever that will be burned in my mind's eye. I suppose that in a way I am choosing to ignore reality but reality can be horrific at times so even though it might be like living in a bubble and I might be accused of wearing rose colored glasses, I choose to not deal with more emotional stuff than I have to.

2) I do think it's rude for people to stare because I don't really think it's empathy. It's plain nosiness and in the process you are causing more traffic that can result in ANOTHER wreck. But that's just my little opinion....

Redbaerd said...

I don't think I've ever had the courage to be honest about my inner rubbernecker until I read your post and realized how virtuous the simple act of watching can be. How much capacity I'm building in myself for future curiousity....I'm definitely going to start embracing my inner voyeur.

(I've long been fond of justifying my unabashed interest in voyeurism in a little party banter axiom -- "I think it's fine to be a voyeur as long as you're also an exhibitionist...." It's usually good for a few nervous laughs, so imagine my surprise when, at a faculty retreat lunch when they mixed the tables up and had us sit with people we wouldn't usually find, I found out that apparently the nursing faculty in general and the president of the college are less than amused at my self-proclaimed vices...)

Luther said...

I've tried to cut back on teaching others how to drive, though the "educator" in me still cries out of a time, imploring me to leave no self-centered, punk, scourge of the earth behind.