Friday, August 4, 2023

#216 / Outraged Out


I went looking for a picture depicting "outrage," and I found one, too. See above. Why was I looking for a picture depicting "outrage"? Well, an article published by The Guardian, on Tuesday, June 23, 2023, had the word "outrage" in the headline. Click the headline, below, and you should be able to read the entire article yourself, and see what its author, Arwa Mahdawi, has to say about motor vehicles (she's not a fan).

These days, I am pretty much a pedestrian, most of the time. We have become a one-car family (down from two), and I am not the one who does most of the driving. I walk. Everything that Arwa Mahdawi says about life in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania pretty much applies to life in Santa Cruz, California, too, with respect to what pedestrians routinely experience. Quoting Mahdawi's article in The Guardian

I live in Philadelphia, which was recently voted the most walkable city in America. Yet, despite its walkability, pretty much every time I stroll my kid the 10 minutes to daycare I find myself becoming apocalyptical because some arsehole of a driver doesn’t seem to realise – or care – that walkers exist. Traffic laws rarely seem to be enforced: cars are frequently parked on pedestrian crossings, for example. Or someone runs a red light.
Or – since the city is in the middle of a building boom – construction vehicles block the entire pavement, forcing you to walk into traffic. I once complained to a police officer about this and he just shrugged and told me to walk in the road. Can’t have pedestrians inconveniencing illegally parked trucks, after all. Four wheels good, two legs bad!
Across a lot of the country you take your life in your hands any time you go outside to stretch your legs. That is not hyperbole: pedestrian deaths are at a 40-year high in the US. According to a report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association, more than 7,500 pedestrians were killed by cars last year – the highest number since 1981. This doesn’t even include statistics from Oklahoma, which was apparently “not able to provide data.” Riding a bike is similarly treacherous: the number of cyclists hit by cars has been increasing since the pandemic.

The kind of problems faced by pedestrians, in Philadelphia and everywhere, are real. I share the distress felt by Mahdawi, but when I read her column, and saw her call for "outrage," I had to take a pause. I believe that I am becoming "outraged out." As I said some time ago - speaking of politics, and not, specifically, the life of pedestrians - "outrage" is, quite apparently, the "go to" reaction that we are all having about the status of ..... well, just about everything!
Like I say, I am feeling kind of "outraged out." 

I know (from the article that provided the picture I have at the top of this blog posting) that there is some scientific evidence that "Outrage Can Be A Good Thing." Still, when I think about politics, and public policy problems, I don't think that "outrage" gets us to a solution. 

Most of our problems, I think, come from our failure to remember - and to make "operationally true" - this fundamental fact about our human existence: "We are in this together." 

We ARE in this together, which means that all the problems we have are shared problems. We are all involved, and "outrage" doesn't lead to the collaboration, cooperation, and compromise that can produce political (and real) solutions. The "DeSantis Doctrine," as I labeled it back in July, comes from "outrage" about the very real, and difficult, problems relating to immigration. However, having border patrol officers simply kill immigrants who breach border barriers - which is what DeSantis has advocated - is not going to solve our immigration dilemma. 
Outrage about automobiles won't help pedestrians and bike riders, either.
I am sorry if this news may seem somewhat disconcerting, but we need to work together to deal with our difficulties, across every kind of division that splits and divides us. This is the only possible way we may be able to solve our problems - and outrage does not provide us with any kind of safe entree into the kind of political collaboration we need. 
The sooner we realize this - the sooner that we are all "outraged out" - the sooner we will begin making some genuine progress.

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