Driving to the parish this last week, I was listening to a talk radio program where they were discussing the pedestrian crossing lights on the crosswalks in Boston. Now I do not consider myself a stupid person but I just learned that they do not work. By this, I mean they are all on an automated timer, so even though we press the buttons and wait for the light to change, they are all on a timed cycle controlled by a computer somewhere in the sky. Our button pressing is just an exercise in futility.

For years, decades in fact, I have been pressing these buttons expecting to influence them, i.e., make the crossing happen, yet most of them are placebos: there to placate me into being a good citizen. Apparently 30% of elevators are also programmed accordingly, so the next time it takes forever for the elevator door to close, don’t be surprised.

So, we are doing something which has the appearance of being compliant with the law, that is, not jaywalking into the intersection. We wait patiently for our reward for doing what is expected of us, and then respond to the call to walk when it comes … to walk now. As I am listening to this program, I stop at a red light in Winchester, and witness a cyclist do exactly what is being described on the radio, as if God needs to give me an example of how this works in real time. I am still somewhat amazed at my own gullibility, but now I see a young girl with her bike doing the same. I wonder if she knows. No … she doesn’t.

Perhaps some of my own behaviors are also like this Boston crossing. Have I already made the decision about how I want to have someone react to me, or treat me, and want everyone to do the same? This is the essence of respect, something which we earn and are not given automatically. When someone finds us doing the same thing, expecting respect but not doing anything to deserve it , does it have the same effect? Do we have our own “fake crossings” in our life where we ask others to wait for us, be courteous or patient?

I guess I do.

Now how do I change them without admitting I have been trying to fool others for years?



An Unnecessary Gate

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