Twenty five people were killed yesterday in a road accident here in Israel. The news reports that the two drivers were ‘racing’ right before the fatal nightmare. The driver had a record of driving incidents.
This tragedy holds a profound lesson for us.
On occasion I have a simcha that I will sing in Jerusalem and it will require renting a car to bring my keyboard and other equipment. A few times I have called to reserve a car too late, and ended up taking a taxi to and from the job.
It was on one such evening that I met Eli. He is a driver who startled me with his simple smooth attitude about everything. Nothing would perturb him, and he told me that the right question to ask is never, ‘Why did you go that way,’ but rather, ‘Why don’t we go that way.’ Questions about the past, he told me, are not constructive. Questions about the future are.
There was another bit of wisdom that he said that I would like to focus on. He told me that if he was the minister of transportation, he would remove all of the horns from the cars. Why is that? He said that the horn makes a person feel invincible. So what if you’re coming? HONK HONK! I’m here! The horn causes more traffic accidents then it prevents.
The depth behind this statement is that when a person is full of himself at every point as he is driving, there will be no respect on the road. Whaddaya mean? I’m drivin’ here! Watch out! When the attitude is pride, destruction is close by one’s side.
Another taxi driver (who Eli sent me to) was Yehuda, who told me that at a certain point he realized the pointlessness of getting upset at others’ foolishness on the road. When he came to that realization, he had an encounter on the road where he cut someone off, and the other person was enraged. Yehuda was in turn cut off by the guy, and the car slowed down in front of him until they both came to a stop.
A big burly guy got out of the car and came over with a look of death in his eyes and curses on his lips. Instead of getting upset, Yehuda turned to the guy and said to him, “You are right. I deserve whatever you have in mind for me. Give me your best shot.”
The big guy didn’t know what to do with Yehuda’s statement. He grunted something under his breath, got back into his car, slammed the door and drove off.
Pride kills. Humility saves lives.