I recently completed teaching an eight-week class on Wednesday evenings at Mercer University’s Henry County Center in McDonough. My usual route home takes me down I-75 to the Barnesville/Jackson exit. These days, the Georgia Department of Transportation is resurfacing that stretch of interstate highway. They do the work at night. My class ended at 9:45 p.m. You do the math.Luckily, I have these nice apps on my phone to help me. One night, I requested one such app to take me to the best route home. It knew (I don’t know how) that the interstate was a parking lot due to the construction, so it took me on what would have been a scenic route had it not been too dark to see. On another night, the app said that traffic on the interstate was moving well, so I went that way. The app was right, and I zipped right on down the highway.Then there was a third night. The app assured me that the interstate was the best way to go.The app lied. As a result, I found myself sitting still for half an hour two miles from my exit. It was mildly irritating. But I was listening to a very interesting podcast, so it was no big deal. What did bother me about the situation was how unnecessary it was. And it was unnecessary because of’”what else?’”people. You see, a few miles before the point where the work began, there were signs saying things like, ‘Road work ahead. Two left lanes closed. Merge right.’I processed the information. If road work was ahead, and if the two left lanes were going to be closed, then the suggestion to move over to the right lane seemed a good one. So I did. And then I rolled along in the right lane for a few miles with people zipping by me in the two left lanes. I kept on rolling and they kept on zipping’”until I stopped rolling and they stopped zipping.The bottleneck occurred when the people driving in the two left lanes’”the lanes that those signs had miles ago’”miles ago!’” warned them were going to be closed’”suddenly needed to get in the far right lane, where I and other people already were because (1) we can read and (2) we have the good sense to take warnings seriously and to do what we need to do to avoid problems down the road.This is a metaphor for the place in which we find ourselves.There are all kinds of signs warning us of what’s coming. There are signs warning us that if we don’t do something, climate change is going to get worse, with ominous implications for our health, the economy, and national security.There are signs warning us that if we don’t do something, disregard for the Constitution at the highest levels is going to get worse, with ominous implications for our government, our freedom, and our role in the world.There are signs warning us that if we don’t do something, demagoguery that uses fear and ignorance to create and widen divisions among us is going to get worse, with ominous implications for our society, our politics, and our common good.There are signs warning us that if we don’t do something, health care problems that come from placing more value on corporate profits than on human lives are going to get worse, with ominous implications for our well-being, our finances, and our stability.If we don’t respond to the warning signs by doing something positive and constructive, we’ll soon find ourselves stuck with no exit available.We ignore the warning signs to our own peril, and to the even greater peril of our children, their children, and their children.The signs are there. We’d better start moving over before it’s too late.
We’d better move over
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