I’m trying to think of an analogy that really demonstrates the difference between how we scrutinize strangers, as opposed to the people sharing our immediate space. All I can think of is road rage. Seeing someone while there is a perceived barrier separating you from them. Little humans rolling around burning gas in far superior mechanisms, feeling ownership over something they did not make, and the underlying inspiration to protect it. We really don’t even consider how everyone else is doing the same. How the body-map image they had of themselves had to change to sit down and absorb a vehicle. Be it political, be it familial, be it work-related or racial or economic. Whichever distinction you are riding behind, looking through, steering with gripped hands and feet pushing pressure. They cut you off, they risk the twenty grand you sank into this explosive contraption, they threaten the family you’re carting, they essentially attack the entire high speed direction down which you’ve hurdled almost your entire being, careening toward a destination those people can’t even imagine. We do not have the time rolling down Eighty-Five at eighty-five to consider they may have destinations of their own in mind. Defensive reactions, life and death responsibilities, check engine light turned on.
Face to face, walking down the street, you might smile at her daughter. He might hold out his hand. Foreheads may nod toward each other like they were magnetized, drawn to share some central space between two brains.
But not inside that car payment, the monthly invoiced reminder that this pace of life is so dangerous you’re already paying for accidents that have yet to happen.
In your recliner like a car seat, stared through computer screens like they were windshields, gripping steering wheels that turn tires across so many jammed lanes of so many social media highways. Hating anyone and anything that impedes or seeks to supersede the imaginary trajectory you’ve imposed onto your imaginary journey. Kids making noise in the back because they’re not driving yet. Gritting your teeth leaned forward because just who the hell do these people think they are.
But if you could climb out of your politics the way you climb out of your car, never, never in a million years would you hate these people debating carpool lanes and traffic stops and where highways end and where all they could begin and guardrails and cutting grass and limitations of speed and limitations of engines and limitations of human sight and ability. They’re people. Sitting in their American-made political machines, engines running louder and stronger than any vehicle you or I will ever operate. People all the same. If you passed either one on the sidewalk, you’d smile and nod without thinking, you might even push out a hand. Both of them have been brave, and put their credibility and careers on the line in a highly tumultuous, unpredictable time. That takes a lot. Try stopping the car and walking. You might just get a better view of the two people talking.