Two green lights

Good thing I am not actually a teacher! Even so, I was only a couple steps from the grave. So I may as well share the lesson (while I remember it…)

On my way home from work, I passed a street crossing with traffic light. As it happens, here in Kristiansand it is not unusual that the pedestrians and one group of cars get the green light at the same time. I disapprove of it, but this used to be a fairly small town until recently, so people are probably happy to have traffic lights at all.

Be that as it may, one of the drivers (probably not from around here) put the petal to the medal, or something like that, accelerating impressively. If I had stepped out as the green light recommended, both of us would have received a much reduced quality of life for a while onward. In my case quite probably a reduction to zero.  Luckily I was more aware of the situation than him, this time. At other times it has been the other way around, although probably not often.

I don’t hold it against the guy, he saw the green light and went ahead. There is no reason to believe that he was thinking to himself: “Self, someone might step out in that street and not only will you get blood all over the car, you will probably face a couple years behind bars, ruin your career and risk that your wife runs off with the mailman while you’re there. But it is all worth it for the glory of helping Evolution create a race of lightning fast pedestrian, through the amazing power of Natural Selection.”

No, we can safely assume that he simply saw the green light and thought, or rather felt without needing to form it into words: Driving now is MY RIGHT.

And this, dear congregation, is how bad things happen to be done by good people. When two people Have The Right to do something that is bound to collide.

This is obviously not restricted to traffic, although it gets very concrete there. But it appears on so many scales, from the clash of civilizations to “the homicidal bitching that goes down in every kitchen to determine who will serve and who will eat”, to quote master Leonard Cohen in his aptly named song Democracy.

Many years ago, a young friend in the Christian Church here in Kristiansand had a revelation. And because it was so clear to him, and he did not try to make a long sermon from it, I remember it still.  “When two people meet in court, almost always both of them think they are right.” That’s it, exactly. Both of them had the green light.  Of course there is the occasional smooth liar who knows he is wrong but hopes nobody will find out. But that is not the rule.

For this reason, when someone loses in court, or in some other arena of conflict solving, they tend to become bitter and lose faith in society and fellow humans. In many cases they begin to be surrounded by a demonic aura, figuratively speaking. They are not only in a bad mood, but actively try to infect others with the same mood, not only through their words but through their tone of voice, facial expression and body language. In their suffering, they actually become a force for evil in the world.

I cannot honestly say that such a fate is better than death. It is, in one way: As long as you live, there is hope.  But the hope is very small for such people, who have lost a collision of the soul.

I wonder if I would have been like that if I had walked out in the street today and survived, perhaps minus the use of arms and legs.  If I would have spent the rest of my earthly life bitter and hateful, waiting for that evil, evil driver to go to hell and burn and burn for ever and ever. All the while being in Hell myself even in this life, burning and burning with the fire of hate and the poison of bitterness.

Luckily for all involved, none of that happened today. May it not happen to any of us.