Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Militant Narcissism

I have been noting of late a lot of what I call militant narcissism on display at every turn.  And it occurs in all areas of life, both right and left. It is seen in Moms Demanding (worthless and meaningless) Action on Guns and in gun owners ostentatiously open carrying in stores and restaurants. It is seen in the utterly terroristic tactics of militant homosexuals, of Islamic jihadi terrorists, of the mobs in Ferguson, Missouri, and even in the aggressive driver weaving in and out of traffic in an often vain attempt to get to his very important destination a bit faster. It is often caused by people who have found what they believe is THE ONE TRUE WAY, whatever it is, and everyone must now sit down and shut up.  If you do not bow to THE ONE TRUE WAY, they will make you.

Some examples may help illuminate what I mean by "militant narcissism."  The other day Mrs. Polykahr and I were out shopping.  On the way home we encountered a bicyclist on a two lane road struggling along at around 10 mph smack dab in the middle of our lane, forcing us to slow down.  Where we encountered him there were double yellow lines indicating no passing.  Now, on a lot of roads around here, the pavement stops inches past the white line, and the road falls off onto a soft shoulder.  Obviously, one can not ride the shoulder because it is not paved.  But on this particular stretch, there was a wide paved shoulder, and he should have taken advantage of it.  Eventually, the way was clear to pass, and the center line had become dashed, so we did.

Now, the bicyclist was within his rights as a vehicle to take up the entire lane. He was not doing anything illegal.  But he was being extremely discourteous, and I am sure he knew it.  But bicyclists have become "militant" in greater numbers these days, feeling that theirs is THE way to get around, and that those who drive cars are just not doing their part.  They are not saving enough energy, or they are contributing to greenhouse gases, or whatever the reason for riding rather than driving is.  Often, this type of bicyclists doesn't really like this mode of transportation, but believes himself to be doing it out of a misplaced sense of duty.  This attitude of course ignores that many have handicaps that prevent them riding a bicycle, and no amount of training or working out will ever allow them to do so.  It also ignores that the only reason the bicyclist is able to pursue his particular sport is because trucks, vans and other vehicles ply the roadways bringing goods and services to a market near his home.  If he had to ride 30 miles to the supermarket every day to pick up the days groceries, rain or shine, snow or extreme cold, he would think differently about making riding a lifestyle.  But these people do not think about these things. No, instead they do things like this.

I know something about riding a bicycle.  When I was younger, I rode a bicycle frequently to work, and was a member of the Potomac Pedlars, a bicycle club with thousands of members and a riding schedule that had several rides posted for every day of the week.  Riders were classified as AA, A,BB, B, CC, C, or D.  AA riders were semi-pro or professional riders.  These were the guys you might see in the Tour de France.  A and B riders were excellent.  C, where I rode, were of average athletic ability, and D was for duffers or newcomers to the sport.  An average rider with reasonably good equipment (a well set up road bike) and a thorough knowledge of his gears could average 20 mph on level to moderately hilly roads.  This guy had the equipment, and was dressed the part, but he was clearly a D rider.  A skilled and knowledgeable rider is able to ride alongside traffic without imposing unduly on other faster traffic whose operators also have the right of way.

M. Scott Peck wrote a book back in 1994 called A World Waiting to be Born. Perhaps if we all took heed of his admonitions, we would find our roads easier to travel.

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