Though car horns are a seemingly indirect form of expression, we should remember to treat people on the road the same way we would treat them face to face.
I was driving to work and the usual happened. I don’t remember the specifics, just that someone else’s driving irritated me. I had never hesitated to honk my car horn before, but on this particular day, the heavy pressure of my palm evoked no sound. Then I remembered—of all the things that had gone wrong from my last car accident, the horn was just one thing that had stopped functioning. So honking my horn was not an option this time. At first this really angered me. I tried thinking of what else I could possibly do to show this other driver my frustration. However, I had to just accept that I couldn’t do anything at the moment.
To be sure, a car horn can be very useful. But how often do we use this safety precaution to express our anger and frustration?
I remembered reading Elder Quentin L. Cook’s talk “Don’t Wear Masks.” In it he describes how wearing masks enables people to behave in ways they normally wouldn’t. He says, “If you ever find yourself wanting to [put on a mask], please know it is a serious sign of danger and one of the adversary’s tools to get you to do something you should not do.”
Elder Cook gives the example of masking our true identities on the Internet. Anonymous or not, people sometimes seek to attack others through bullying or placing them in a bad light. This is easier to do on the Internet than in person because the Internet seems less direct. But words are no less hurtful simply because they are typed rather than spoken. Elder Cook concludes, “The righteous need not wear masks to hide their identity.”
It wasn’t until I got used to not having a car horn that I understood its application to wearing a mask as described by Elder Cook. I had found it so easy to show my frustration with the horn before; I hadn’t realized that I was being rude in my car in ways that I could never be to someone’s face.
In his timeless BYU speech “To Thine Own Self Be True,” Elder Robert L. Backman said, “Think about how you treat other drivers on the street, someone who wants the same parking place you do when it’s the last one on the block, or the clerk at the store when you are in a hurry.” I feel that most of us would agree wholeheartedly with what Elder Backman said, but when we are faced with these day-to-day interactions, we sometimes forget who we are. And we forget that those people we see on the road or at the store are all children of God.
Not having a horn to blare forced me to stop and think about each situation and made me grateful that the horn had stopped working. Without a car horn I realized that I had become an anxious and impatient driver. And the only reason the horn was so easy to employ was because I was in the confines of my car. Now I try to remember that though I’m not consciously choosing to wear a mask while I’m driving, it is still an easy way to hide and behave out of character.
No matter where we are or what we are doing, we should follow Elder Cook’s counsel to “act in accordance with [our] beliefs.”
—Christine Wilkins, Mormon Insights
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