Look Up and Ask Why

by David White

Turn signals, blinkers, whatever you may call them, do you use them every time you’re turning, no matter what? If so, why? And, that is my main question. Why? The reason to use a turn signal, implicit in its name, is to signal to others your intentions. But, what if there are no others around? What if you’re turning out of your driveway onto the street, turn signal or no? I ask because I have seen, on two separate occasions, individuals pull from their drive way, turn signal blinking brightly. Now, you may say, why does it matter? Better safe than sorry. Yes, you could say that, and you could really piss me off. Not that that really matters, but just so you know. My problem with this is that people use their turn signals the way they live their lives, without thinking. Oh, they’ll tell you it’s the law, and better safe…well, you know.

Each time I see someone use their turn signal when no one else on the road was affected by their action, I feel as if they have simply given up on life. I feel they have an attitude of, “You tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.” Which, I feel, is not as far as one may think from, “You tell me who to kill, and I’ll do it.” Tell me who deserves to be alive, tell me what is best for me, tell me who to vote for, tell me what job I should take, tell me what to eat, tell me when to eat, tell me what to wear, tell me what to buy, tell me who is right and who is wrong, tell me to sit quietly, tell me to close my eyes, tell me to close my mind. Maybe, just maybe, you can begin to understand why this pisses me off so.

I use my turn signal when needed, meaning simply I take the time to look, observe what’s around me, or not, who may be affected by my turning. If anyone will be, someone ahead of me waiting to pull out, someone behind me needing to know I’m about to slow, someone on the other side of an intersection, I always use my signal, turning it on before I brake to slow. But I can tell you why I used it. I didn’t do it because it’s written in a book; I didn’t do it because most people do. I did it because there was a need for it. I thought about it. The same way I would think about any situation that involved me directly. People seem to live in an Emperor’s New Clothes kind of fog, simply following protocol. I’m not going to tell you what a lovely outfit you’re wearing if I see you’re completely naked (okay, there’s a few women I would, but that’s another blog).

This bothers me so much because I do see hope in the human mind, even in the American citizen, the same citizen who votes for a presidential candidate because, “He’s a good Christian; he got us into the war, I figure he would know how to get us out.” There must be hope; there has to be. A mind is malleable. If it has been deformed into retarded shapes, there remains hope it can be molded again into something absent of cobwebs, full of life, full of questions. There is hope; there has to be.

If I were to see one of my nieces accepting as truth that they’re not good enough just because someone else told them so, it would, say it with me, piss me off royally. My nieces are everything; they are possibility, they are hope. And, if we exist as a brotherhood of man (which, though we may not, I have to believe we can), everyone is important; everyone has the right, or should, to think for themselves. I cringe to see anyone abused.  That is what I consider this blind obedience to be, abuse. It’s the people who give up this right so easily who bother me so. People are being told, and convinced, that they can’t take care of themselves without asking someone else.
I do wonder, how many of these people are conservatives and how many are liberals? John Stuart Mill said that all conservatives aren’t necessarily stupid people, but it did seem all stupid people were conservative. I say this because I feel one definition of a stupid person is one who refuses to think for himself. Which brings us back to turn signals.

You may say this post isn’t really about turn signals, but it really is. Yes, there is so much more associated with it, but that is where it starts. And, consequently, where it could stop, or at least begin to. If people will simply take a moment to look around them before flipping that little switch, maybe they will be a little more likely to look around them before entering the voting booth, before staying with a job they hate, before entering into or staying in a relationship they know isn’t right. Maybe they will ask, “Why am I buying this? Why am I eating this? Why am I listening to this? Why am I putting up with this?” And maybe, once they look up, once they take a moment to look around, maybe, just maybe they will realize they do have the power to change their lives, and if one life can be changed, who’s to say how many other lives that one change may affect.

We are better than we treat ourselves. We are better than our politicians; hell, we’re better than our countries. We are humanity; we have no borders. Why do we continue to settle for so little, to sell ourselves so short, to not only allow others to think for us, but to accept their conclusions unquestioned? I know it’s fear, but if we can pursue the fear, chase it into a corner, I feel certain we will find, as in Oz, the fear has no intrinsic power. The only power the fear has is what we give it. And he who giveth can also taketh away. We allow the fear to run free, to dictate our lives. We can stop it. All we need to do is look up from time to time and ask why.

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