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socio-political self-help and stuff

traditionally speaking

doing what was always done. image credit: chadkluck/creative commons

doing what was always done will leave us where we’ve always been. let’s do better. image credit: chadkluck/creative commons

a few weeks ago, while en route from a major u.s. city to a smaller city in the same state, i chose to take advantage of a ride on a long distance bus carrier. upon arriving in this smaller city, i noticed that at every railroad crossing, the bus driver pulled on to the tracks, stopped the bus, opened the door, glanced out, closed the door and then continued on our little journey. i have noticed this done before in other places around the u.s. and, being puzzled and inquisitive, i immediately set out to find out why and discovered that commercial bus drivers are required to do this in order to see and hear whether a train is coming… are you thinking what i’m thinking? exactly. now, i don’t consider myself to be the smartest person alive. but. i just can’t help but think that to stop a commercial vehicle on railroad tracks isn’t the smartest, nor safest, place to determine whether a train is coming. so i did a bit more research…

what i found is that an accident which occurred back in 1938 is behind this law. and so seventy-some-odd years later, despite major advances in technology, we’re still doing the same thing that we did then, because it’s what we’ve always done… even though cars and commercial carriers look nothing like and perform at a much greater technological level than their older ancestors. even though there are sensors and signs to indicate when a train is coming (although i know that this isn’t always fail-safe, just wait for my next point). and even though, again i will say it, i can’t imagine that the railroad track is the safest vantage point to view an oncoming train. so this got me to thinking…

how many things do we do today that might not make sense or no longer fit with the times, just because it’s what was always done? the things that made perfect sense (even in the most remote way) then, that we haven’t bothered to question why or wonder about the origin, we just plod along, doing the same exact things. maybe it’s the way your mom taught you to fry chicken, despite there being much easier, healthier and/or tastier ways of frying up a few pieces of poultry. or some outdated rule, like the railroad stopping example above, that we don’t question. and don’t consider that there may be another way. another side. another… something.

it’s occurred to me on my personal journey (much greater than the one i refer to above) that we should question everything that we do just because. because just because isn’t good enough, when it comes to things like discriminating against a certain class of people, because it’s what we were taught. because making processes much more difficult and maybe even more dangerous, even if it’s how we’ve always done it just doesn’t make sense. because, like every two-year-old knows, because is never a good enough answer to the question why?.

3 comments on “traditionally speaking

  1. sara

    What a great post. I am also amazed that a bus would stop ON the tracks to listen for a train.OMG. 🙂 It is so necessary to question our beliefs – especially what we believe about ourselves. It’s amazing what we discover when we drop those old beliefs – and i never accepted ‘just because’ when i was a kid and I’m not going to start now!

    • rachel m. walls

      thank you soooo much. i’m glad that you like it. it really puzzles me how we don’t question, generally, and it just really hit home watching the bus driver stop on the tracks, how dangerous it is… i’ve always been one to question – thus being branded a troublemaker. a title i’m proud to carry. 🙂

      • sara

        Yay for the troublemakers 🙂


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This entry was posted on 2014/07/03 by in social and tagged , , , , , .

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