A friend told me recently she got pulled over for distracted driving.
Thanks to this culture’s dependency on smart phones, law enforcement agencies have had to be vigilant about implementing new driving laws, which come with hefty price tags.
It pained my friend to talk about the money, but she also had enough perspective to say, “But I’ve learned my lesson and I won’t drive distracted again.”
Later that afternoon, while running errands around town, I started noticing just how many people drive distracted: a lady putting on mascara, a man eating a sub with both hands (I assume his knee was driving?), a mom steering with one hand while pointing her finger (angrily) at her kids in the back seat (which I’m SO guilty of), and a teenager texting while stopped at a red light.
I started to notice that it didn’t matter how many warning signs were along the streets, boulevards and highways, many people risked the consequence anyway because they were more concerned with their own distractions than they were with anything else going on around them.
So here’s the conclusion I reached…
We live in a culture of distraction.
“Our lives are filled with so many distractions – some good and some bad, but distractions just the same. If we choose, we can live our whole life so filled with these distractions that we never have to face – or be confronted with – real, desperate needs.“ –Noel Brewer Yeatts
The reality is, for most of us, we will most likely live our whole lives never having to be confronted with real, desperate needs because even the poorest of the poor in North America have access to opportunity. And because there are so many structures, organizations and Governmental systems in place for these types of needs, many of us will never be “pulled over” and given a consequence for our distracted living.
Can we even comprehend issues like AIDS and poverty?
Do we fully grasp that more than one billion people in the world don’t live like we do?
Therefore, we can keep “eating our subs” and “texting our friends” and “putting on mascara” because human trafficking won’t “blare it’s siren and flash it’s lights in our rear view mirror”, and dire poverty won’t “walk up to our window and ask for our license and registration”, and abandoned children won’t “confront our behaviour and hand out demerits.”
If we can so easily drive by actual signs of warning for road responsibility, think of how purposeful and intentional we need to be to “see signs” for our human responsibility.
I read a book once that talked about how our affluent culture is like a drug. We have become so addicted to busy that we don’t even know we’re distracted. We no longer notice, never mind feel, the pain of other people’s deprivations because we’re too consumed with all the things we think we need in order to live a great life.
We live with our heads in the sand.
We turn the channel.
We look the other way.
We avoid the conflict.
We think someone else will act.
We fill our lives with so many distractions that we never really have to face reality. But that does not make the evil go away.
Ironically, right after my friend got her hefty distracted ticket, she began noticing all the signs along her regular day-to-day route. She can now tell you what each sign says, what color each sign is painted, and where each sign is located. Why? Because she was confronted with her distraction and it awakened her to responsibility.
So here’s the challenge.
Here’s how to avoid a life of distraction:
- Put down your phone.
- Look people in the eyes.
- Turn off your smart phone notifications.
- Check email only twice a day.
- Notice those who are hurting.
- Pay attention to what’s going on around you.
- Tune in to what’s going on in the world.
- Get involved in your community.
- Cancel cable.
- Keep a to-do list.
- See yourself as capable of making a difference.
- Care less about what other people think.
- Volunteer your time, money and talents for positive change.
- Become awakened to the real needs of this culture.
- Listen to what moves you, bothers you, motivates you, inspires you, and resonates with you in a deeply passionate way.
“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” –Albert Einstein