Now that the Vatican has issued their new Ten Commandments of Driving
, I had to stop and take a long, hard look:
- You shall not kill.
- The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.
- Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.
- Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.
- Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.
- Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.
- Support the families of accident victims.
- Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.
- On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.
- Feel responsible toward others.
It's a pretty good list, although I have lots of questions about it. Where are the commandments that address motorists respecting the environment? Why 10 commandments for driving? Why not the 10 commandments for International Conflict, or 10 Commandments for the Treatment of Women?
And how does it work, anyway? If you violate these commandments, is that a mortal sin? A venial sin? Is it worse or better than molesting a choirboy? Do they feel like if they put these commandments down as law, then God-fearing Catholics will be more likely to follow them because they fear eternal damnation? It seems to me that these are rules decent people with any sense of fairness, compassion and respect for fellow human beings ought to be following anyway.
Despite these questions, I figured I'd better examine my conscience to see how many of these I've violated anyway:
Commandment #1, 2 and 6: Never, never and never. I'm in the state of grace on those.
Commandments #3 and 10: I think almost any Filipino driver violates these commandments on a daily basis. Drivers are constantly swerving, running red lights, speeding, cutting people off, anything to get one or two cars ahead. Although I'm not an aggressive driver, there is NO WAY I'm going to let ANYONE cut ahead of me when I'm in the proper lane -- so I guess I've sinned.
Commandments #4, 7 and 8: I've actually never been in a situation where these commandments would apply -- unless you count rubbernecking when there are accidents on the highway (and there are already policmen there anyway) or refusing to forgive the idiot policeman who issued me a traffic ticket three years ago. Would those count as venial (minor) sins?
Commandment #5: I'm going to burn in hell for this one. Once you've driven a BMW, it's hard to enjoy driving anything other than The Ultimate Driving Machine. The speed, the acceleration, the power, feeling As One With The Car ... ahhhhhhh. Power and pleasure? Yes! Yes! Yees! I'm unrepentant in my enjoyment -- it's sort of like having sex for enjoyment rather than merely procreation. And I'm not even going to discuss my usage of cars as an occasion for that
type of sin!
Commandment #9: I used to be a big sinner on this one -- again, the driving habits of Filipinos in Manila. It's hard enough to get drivers to adopt the habit of wearing seatbelts, much less the passengers, to say nothing of carseats for babies. As a child, I rode cars sitting on adults' laps in both the front and back row. When I visit Manila, I see nothing has changed. But after living in the US for so long, I've seen the light and have been born again on this one. Seat belts are non-negotiable in our family, whether here or in Manila.
I guess I've failed the Decent Driver test - but not because I'm violating these Commandments. I consider myself a good (though somewhat lapsed) Catholic -- and by that, I mean instead of asking myself, "What does the Church say?",
I ask myself, "What would Jesus do?"
(thanks to Alfie for that simple yet powerful mantra). I've failed because Jesus would always slow down to let another driver get into His lane, and Jesus would smile and say the policeman who gave him a ticket was only doing his job. I have to say, though, that I do think Jesus would enjoy driving a BMW for the sake of it - he's human, after all.For more of my thoughts on the Ten Driving Commandments, head on over to my post at the Silicon Valley Moms Blog.