The traffic jam that is life

The featured speaker at this morning's Natick Community Celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. was Jim Kates, who was a civil rights volunteer during the 1964 Freedom Summer, helping register African-American voters in Mississippi.

One thing he reminded us was how much civil rights activists disagreed with and even disliked each other, and how common that is.

Think about a traffic jam, he said. All of the drivers ultimately want to get to the same place, but that's not usually how we think about it. Instead, we get frustrated with the other drivers.

We forget that it's not these people who are the problem, but this situation that feels so unsatisfactory.

We also forget that if we all keep facing in the same direction, doing what we can to move forward, we will eventually arrive at our destination. 

Have you experienced conflict or frustration with people who want the same kinds of things that you do? I certainly have.

It doesn't necessarily keep us from our destination -- in fact, it can be a rich and important source of learning -- but it also doesn't feel that good.

I'm looking forward to applying the traffic jam metaphor the next time I'm upset with someone, or someone else is upset with me:

Hey, we're both just drivers here....

Where are we going, again?