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Lights in the Darkness

What may be a reflection of my advancing age is the feeling that time seems to be moving backwards instead of forwards. Maybe instead of time my preoccupations are going in reverse. Perhaps I’m thinking the answers promised by the future will be more helpful if I do my small part to resurrect the past.

At any rate, I’m fixated on a long-lost feature of driving habits that I hope our collective disposition will soon return to. On cross-country trips that I experienced as a youngster in the 1960s, I recall with great nostalgia that truckers would flash their identification and running lights to notify another vehicle that it was safe to pass on a two-lane road or to return safely to the right lane after passing the big-rig. The vehicle would then respond to the courtesy by flashing its lights in acknowledgment of the trucker’s assist. In the case of a truck passing a car, the driver of the car would flash his or her lights to let the trucker know when it was safe to pass or slip back into the right lane.

These gestures represented more than mere politeness. Mutual respect was embedded in them; intention that each driver remains safe; generous sharing of territory, however fleeting; recognition that each person’s life was of equal value and worthy of a small but vital token of civility.

Am I a child to think that such highway decorum affirmed our fundamental humanity? Am I hopelessly mired in nostalgia to think that the disintegration of such propriety is emblematic of far greater and more consequential devolution as people?

The flashing lights struck a measure of assurance in vast darkness, radiance in the abyss. They served as a beacon of mutual concern and a connectivity that our world has clearly lost. I want to believe that the loss is recoverable.





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