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02 April 2008

Acceptable Law-Breaking?

Sometimes when I write, I try to guess the mental reaction of the reader. Actually, I suppose I do this most of the time. Knowing one's audience (or making an attempt to do so) is obviously important.

I'm guessing that a good number of readers will dismiss this as silly, impractical, or unimportant. The rest of you are Godly. Not really, but read on...

I decided yesterday to finally, once and for all, commit to obeying the law of the posted speed limit whenever I drive. It's a little embarrassing to admit that I have actually intentionally disobeyed the law repeatedly. I'm going to consult a police officer today to get his take on this whole situation, as our culture may have developed not only a tolerance for people driving in excess of the speed limit, but even an expectation of it. Interesting short case study about that here (I can't vouch for the cleanliness of language in the comments!).

I'm very, very interested in counter arguments -- reasons why it is acceptable to drive five or 10 miles per hour, or even more, in excess of the posted limit.

My brainstormed notes about obeying the speed limit:

1) When one drives within the posted speed limit, he is obeying the law.

2) When one drives within the posted speed limit, potential anger is avoided because he will never again get angry for someone driving the speed limit in front of him. However, cotton pickers (large, green farming vehicles, a common sight on roads in the south) will always be a different story.

3) We have developed our senses of urgency, and even complete schedules, based upon actions outside the law. If the speed limit were 35 everywhere (or our cars went an average of, say, 10 MPH slower), my guess is that we would adjust our schedules to those speeds. "Give them an inch..." Our human tendency is to take what we are given and then ask for slightly more.

4) Are we provoking others to anger? Are we giving others a bad view of Christianity when we putter along at the speed limit (gasp!) while we have a fish bumper sticker on our car? But what if everyone went the speed limit?

5) Yesterday I passed a police car and instinctively hit my brakes. I suddenly realized that there was no need to do so. Similarly, when we tell a lie, our brain develops methods of covering it up. When we tell the truth, less brainpower -- no deceit -- is required.

I don't ususally dissect small things like this, but it's been entertaining and has taken a great deal of personal restraint, and I'm only one day into this rigid observation.


Preston N said...

I guess the first thing I would try to determine is if speeding is considered to be "unkind" or unloving? I really think it could go either way. The video you referenced is a really good example, whereas these four drivers, although they were "obeying" the speed limit, were not acting with kind motives in mind, but actually to cause civil unrest or civil disobedience. Again, this says much about obedience and motives of the heart. For myself, that is what the Lord is really trying to move people to do - not for us just to be obedient in a contextual sense or just to keep a bunch of laws as the Jews did, but as the Bible says to "obey from the heart".

I would take murder as a good example. The taking of another person's life with selfish motivations is defined as murder. But take a person's life in either self defense or in defending the weak or overcoming tyranny (such as in the case of war or battle) and this is often viewed as either heroic or justified - in either case a life has been taken. In one case one is viewed to be criminal, and in the other one is considered justified or absolved of any crime. So again, its not just the keeping of "the law" that matters, but whether we keep the law with good and right motives. The Lord does not look at just our actions - but he looks to see what is motivating our actions.

Dean Lusk said...

Can I say "neat," as in, "These are neat thoughts"? :)

In addition to asking the "unkind" and "unloving" questions, I'd also have to ask what benefit my driving in excess of the speed limit would offer. In some cases, it would be reckless to drive the speed limit. In those cases, I can't say I'd have the same view of speeding that I presented in the post. It is, indeed, a different scenario!

Anonymous said...

So, how's the speed limit affecting you? Have you been late anywhere yet? Yes, following Christ causes us to change in ways more than just the obvious. (and that's usually a good thing!?! -tongue-in-cheek) In order for me to leave earlier for any given event or come home a little later, I would have to cut short time somewhere else - probably doing something self-serving (computer time, reading, 30 minutes of 'me' time, etc.). Gosh, putting others first and loving others is, like, a sacrafice of self...


Anonymous said...

What I mean to say is "You're a better man than me"...


Preston N said...

I guess I would also look at what is the intent of the law and the over all importance of the law by that of society and the government. Take the Autobahn in Germany for example. Here is a highway where speeding is widely accepted and even promoted. But yet the fatality rate on the Autobahn is almost 20% less than other roads in Germany. Therefore, it could be proved that speeding is not inherently wrong, but the real issue is drivers behavior WHEN their speeding that's the issue. Germans state that this is the reason for the difference in the figures for the Autobahn, is that when people drive on the Autobahn they drive with a greater sense of responsibility and respect - not to mention they probably don't want to crash their Mercedes or their Porsche either! :)

Lamarr said...

You forget the irritation of having somone ride your bumper because you are going too slow for them!!!!!

I have also 'attemped' this discipline; I have heard once from a state trooper that on the interstate it is acceptable to them for someone to be within 10 miles per hour (that would be when the speed limit is 55-70mph) In slower areas, within 5 is generally acceptable, as we can't expect to be perfect, and honestly, going 'too' slow (less than 45 in a 55) is just as dangerous as it presents an unexpected obstacle in driving. Of course when the speed limit is 25 or lower then less is better, and in a military area there is generally NO forgiveness (41 in a 40 is speeding)

I do know I was extremely irritated with someone yesterday (which is common) when they were not aggressive enough for my taste to pull into traffic. I understand caution, but I don't want to sit for more than 2-3 minutes waiting for that perfect spot! Get out of my way already! :)

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