Just stopping for a sign? Think again

Published 4:06 pm Wednesday, December 12, 2018

By Jeremy Weldon

During a break at the Batesville City Board meeting last week an observation was made by a man who is generally the smartest person in the room at these gatherings (it ain’t Hiz Honor or one of the Fab Five aldermen) although that’s really not saying  much.

Adding up all the other I.Q.’s in the room, including the newspaper man, would still leave us short of Mensa-making level. In a democracy, it’s been said, you get what you deserve, and I suppose that’s true even at the level of community councils. For now, Panola County has good boards from the supervisors to the various boards of aldermen and the school trustee boards. We have a good group of mayors and a fine sheriff to boot.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Back to what this fellow said at the City Circus, I mean City Board. We were talking about the seemingly sudden rise of nastiness in national politics and the dangers of that behavior being accepted as normal. We were bemoaning the condition of the country’s economy, moral decline, and the aggressive liberalism that is ravaging the ideas and standards that have always been special to America. Our nation and the world, we agreed, has changed drastically for the worse.

Then he mentioned stop signs, particularly four-way stop signs, and made a point that maybe, just maybe,  gives us some hope that our fellow citizens haven’t lost all disregard for authority or their sense of decency and respect for others no matter what their differences may be.

Consider, he said, what happens hundreds of times a day just in Batesville, and thousands of times a day all over the United States. At common intersections all over town, from the more affluent areas of our fair city to the short, narrow streets where our poorest live, the flow of traffic is controlled by government with four signs (and sometimes a flashing light) and no officers, armed or otherwise.

No only do most motorists obey the Rule of Law and stop at four-ways, but they do so without regard to class or social status. In America, the rich folks stop at the same signs the poor folks stop at. Also, in America, if the poor driver arrives at an intersection first, the rich driver cheerfully allows him to continue in front of him. It’s ingrained for Americans to obey the rules, it’s the way this country was built and why it’s thrived like no other in world history.

In other words, there is still a level of decency and respect for the Rule of Law remaining in this country so that chaos isn’t created each time multiple vehicles arrive at an intersection at the same time. This doesn’t seem like much of a national barometer, but think about it for a few minutes and you will realize the implications run deeper than merely stopping at a red sign.

The smart fellow (again, not to be confused with an elected official) pointed out the often overlooked sequence of events and decisions that drivers make when arriving at an intersection the same time as others. In just a few seconds, Americans (let’s assume) work out a system among themselves for navigating a dangerous situation by willingly submitting to the Rule of Law without being forced by any official. First one there – no matter how rich or poor, nor educated or ignorant – goes first. If it’s hard to know who was first, defer to your fellow man.

This is remarkable. One can argue that drivers’ real motivation for stopping at four-ways and allowing others who arrived first to continue through the intersection is avoiding accidents and damage to their personal property. Maybe, but then consider the many times that three or four vehicles get to a crossing at almost the exact times. How often have you seen others patiently wait as drivers take turns? More often than not.

I think the smart fellow is on to something with this idea. As long as average, common people that make up this great nation are willing to obey the simplest of traffic directions without admonishment, we can rest assured that those same people are collectively willing to submit to the ideas and directives as written in the U.S. Constitution and shun the rabid and radical activism of the leftists and (so called) progressive portions of our citizenry.

When is chaos caused on a previously safe and serene street in this country? It’s when some drivers choose to disregard the Rule of Law and general decency and begin to operate their vehicle as if they own the road and it exists just to facilitate the comings and goings of their vehicle, and perhaps those of their companions. They run stop signs and hurt others.

Think about this when you next drive your vehicle. When you stop at the red signs and wait for others to pass you are adhering to the Rule of Law on the most basic level, but along with millions of other like-minded citizens you are also daily demonstrating the rudimentary requirements for a free people to self-govern, answering only to their Creator and natural law.