Our Most Dangerous Habit

Every day, we give millions of teenagers a weapon capable of more destruction than the standard assault rifle. We allow them, from an age as young as sixteen, to freely use the instrument that caused the death of over 38,000 people last year. It’s not just that we give it to them, either. We train them to use it, drop it in their laps, and send them off into the world with it unsupervised, hoping that their sense of judgment can keep them and those they know safe.

We call these weapons cars.

Now, this isn’t to say that everyone should be utterly terrified of driving, although god knows that most kids (and this applied to me as well) could benefit from a bit of apprehension when they first got behind the wheel. This was just to say that we constantly put a tremendous amount of power into each other’s hands, and that this isn’t limited to driving. 

As you read this, think honestly about the number of people you could put in serious danger within the next hour if you seriously wanted to. If you’re like me, the number is easily over 10. The trust we put in others to respect our lives is massive, and easily betrayed. This can be a tremendously terrifying realization, and in weeks like this past one, where we’ve seen so many people abuse that trust, it gets even more terrifying. But maybe there’s something in it that’s actually hopeful.

Society, at the edge of the day, is nothing more than the persistent struggle to keep our worst impulses constantly at bay. The fact that it has existed for so long, in so many different places, and in so many different forms, says something about us. There will always be people who abuse the trust we give to each other that defines society, but there’s something powerfully inspiring in the number of people who abide by it.

This doesn’t mean that we simply turn a blind eye to those people who try to tear it all down. Indeed, the fact that so many of us are so devoted to the idea of society should inspire to fight the war against them even more fiercely. But when we realize how many respect and cherish the trust we give each other, perhaps its helps us believe that it’s a war we’re destined to win.

Witch excitement and optimism,