Driving along a road to nowhere in particular, there are signs with a number surrounded by a red ring, they are speed limits. And according to the laws of the land they are a safe recommended maximum speed to travel at. What do you do? Travel at that speed or ignore it and perhaps travel faster.
When we travel over that speed we feel invigorated, we feel in control, we feel a safety (for ourselves) that we believe is OK, we feel that we can manage ourselves and not in need of another to dictate to us what speed to travel at. Could we feel trapped by authority becoming a slave to the speed limit and want to retaliate? Perhaps we might feel free.
But is it true freedom?
“Freedom is not doing whatever you want to do. Rather, authentic freedom is choosing the right thing.” John Paul II
Let’s think about that a little further. When we chose freedom (by speeding) are we rebelling?
The act of exceeding the speed limit is rebelling against the laws of the land. Are those limits arbitrarily set? No, our leaders working with organisations to manage safety/design etc. and work to create a framework for a safe and orderly community for each road user. They are working to our common good both as a driver, a passenger, and other road users around us.
So, when confronted with goodness (from our leaders) what is the condition of our heart? Do we recognise the effort and time to help us as individuals and as a community? Do we then choose to travel at a speed exceeding the limit?
However, it does go both ways funnily enough.
When we see those speed limit signs do we back off or stick to them like glue? Why, perhaps we want to simply avoid a fine?
Again, let’s look at the condition of our heart, are we exercising freedom by sticking to the limit if fear is the motivator? I don’t think so, are we not still feeling trapped but in a different kind of way?
So where does the reason for our choice reside?
Is it not reasonable to suggest that if we recognise the common good and value it, that we’ll positively choose (with no shackles) to follow the speed limit? True freedom comes through our understanding for good to make the right decision.
What else in life do we need to apply this understanding of freedom?
2 thoughts on “To speed or not to speed, where is the freedom?”
The first thing is to acknowledge that the road itself isn’t yours – it belongs collectively to ‘the public’, and they have appointed a sometimes-competent authority to maintain and govern the road to the benefit of all its users, and that governance has to trade off trip-time, safety, standard of the road itself, actual capability of vehicles, actual capability of drivers, varying traffic-conditions, varying road-surface conditions, possibilities of hazards intruding on the road, etc.
It’s actually asking a bit much of the simple tool of ‘signage’ to optimise for your own driving skills, in your own vehicle, under the present conditions …. and thereby deliver the best governance for your particular trip … even though you are in a better condition to judge the ‘appropriate speed’ on the day (especially when you know the road). Which is frustrating, because you probably could go faster, and actually still be safe.
I think the required virtue here is humility. You *could* safely go faster, but you opt not to, out of respect for the other road users/owners … not wanting to put them ‘out of reckoning’ with their own trip. And as a bonus, by staying ‘within the rules’ the responsibility of your use of the road falls partly on the governors of the road (which is why they are so damn conservative, because they have to make the system work for the bad drivers too).
However … there are some days when, well, clearly the bureaucrats hadn’t factored in just how ‘in the zone’ you were going to be this day, and that’s an omission you simply can’t accommodate! In that case, you have to choose wisely on pragmatic grounds, and take the consequences on the chin, should they occur!
Thank you for the further thought development, insightful.
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