Mid week I had to commute to Northfield on an overcast day where tall buildings dissipated into the low hanging clouds. Cars speeding past me disappeared into oblivion and the dreariness of the day had me focused on other drivers. Without notice, I came upon a car traveling without lights and well below the speed limit.
I was curious as to why the driver never turned on his or her lights, until I noticed the car weave back and forth, drifting into other lanes. I was concerned that the driver had been drinking, but the sporadic steering wasn’t fluid like someone who was stoned or drunk. I decided to pass the person and get as far away as possible.
The risk of passing was high due to the car’s horizontal movements. It made me wonder if the driver was texting – Definitely a car to avoid. As I prayed for the driver and the safety of those around, I pulled along side and found the woman putting on her make-up.
My visceral response was to think she was an idiot for putting all the drivers around her at risk. Then I remembered a certain Bible verse.
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:2
I realized that I was no better or different than her, except for the make-up. In the past, I too found myself weave slightly while reading a map, dialing a phone, or even looking for the right tune to play on my iPod. And, if I condemned her for the act, I’d be condemning myself for the multiple times I did the same. Ouch.
That’s not to say she wasn’t wrong, but it does speak to whether or not I’m judging the person or the behavior. Anyone in their right mind could see that she was endangering several of us as she primped at 50 mph. However, that doesn’t make her a bad person, but rather suggests she made a bad choice.
The driving behavior she demonstrated was not only unhealthy, but also dangerous. It was a behavior that put others in jeopardy and didn’t suggest any level of concern or compassion for those driving around her. She clearly wasn’t demonstrating road etiquette.
The only good I saw come from the experience was my new list of how to judge an idiotic driver:
1. Judge the behavior, not the person.
2. Pray for their safety and those around rather than condemning them.
3. Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought (After all, you’ve done the same at one point or another).
4. Tap your horn lightly or flash your headlights to help the person realize others are on the street with him or her.
Coming upon a person driving without lights and oblivious to his or her own swerving is discomforting to say the least, but the ramifications of judging ourselves by condemning someone else are far worse. So, going forward, I’ll judge the behavior and not the person.
In other words, there are no idiotic drivers, just people making bad choices as they cruise down the highway.