This question and G.K. Chesterton’s response has popped up recently in several different things I have read. It’s reported that a newspaper asked the question, What’s wrong with the world? and requested that essays be submitted. Apparently Chesterton submitted the following,
When I read this, the pain in my side struck and I said “OUCH!”Since I fall into the category of being a commuter I tend to have a wealth of anecdotes around driving. Of late my attention has been drawn to the red light runners here in Toronto and the GTA. Just this morning, I was mumbling about another bus running a red light while those of us with the advance green waited impatiently.
But let’s try a moment of True Confessions. What I complain the loudest about, I do.
So what’s that all about? Well, here’s the Breaking News, I am often a very impatient individual. But that appears to be just the symptom of what the underlying problem really is. Too often I look at things and believe that everything should line up perfectly for my convenience. For that to happen it means that I expect people to understand this and act accordingly. They should generally yield to what suits me and understand that it’s ok for me to do what they in turn shouldn’t do in an effort to achieve my goal.
While driving I’ve contemplated a variety of solutions to red light running, and these vary depending on my level of frustration. They range from a meaningful contact with my 400,000 km Nissan all the way to support for traffic cameras at intersections.
But back to the confessions, I realize that the best place to begin is to clean up my own act, knowing that if even a few of us started doing that life would be more tolerable. And who knows, it might catch on. Before you say it, I know that I might have to put up with the horn from the guy behind me who is firmly committed to the pursuit of his convenience.
In the fight against poverty there are a great many big issues that are being wrestled with such as homelessness, unfair trade practices, the increasing gap between rich and poor, climate change in developing countries and the national/individual problem of greed.
But sometimes we need to pause and look at our own sphere of activity and influence and decide to shape up.