Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Friends, Vices, Cell Phones and The Truth

Mark was in town tonight so he, Greg and Sharon and I had dinner at Anchor Inn. That's Mark's favorite place in Hutchinson. It was good to see him. He's on the board of the state historical society and is spending a few days in Newton at the State Preservation Conference.

On the national news front today, Al and Tipper Gore have announced they're divorcing, just days after celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. Al Gore has always been a curiousity to me. I've never seen a powerful man that doesn't have some vice. Clinton's was women. Bush's was alcohol and cocaine. Edwards was women - and being even dumber about women than you would think possible. You get the idea.

I've always wondered what Al Gore's was. But I thought maybe having been training in politics from a very early age that he was very controlled. They say there is no affair involved, and I certainly hope that's true, but I guess time will tell.

In state news, Kansas just passed a ban on driving while texting. Well, duh. Like it's not common knowledge that's stupid. Doesn't seem we should need to legislate common sense, but I guess we do.

Tonight I heard Valley Center is considering a ban on any cell phone usage while driving. The idea, of course, is that this will reduce accidents. Unfortunately, the facts tell us it won't make any difference. This is a prime example of people ignoring facts.

The facts are that the number one reason for accidents is not related to cell phones. Although cell phone usage has exploded in the last few years, with 89% of people in the US now having them, there has been no increase in accidents. So, duh, it's not the cell phone.

The number one reason for car accidents is distraction. And that usually comes from another person in the car - often a child. So, why don't we ban people transporting their children? That would be the most logical way to approach the problem. Of course, that's not practical.

For some people, it's not practical for them to not be able to talk on their cell phones while driving. I'm not one of those people - I just don't get that many phone calls - but I'm thinking of salespeople, real estate agents and others who rely on their phones while in the car for their livlihood. And it's easy to say it wasn't always that way, and that's true, but now we expect people to be available 24/7.

While people are suggesting not allowing people to use cell phones while driving we're putting cars on the market with televisions built in. What kind of sense does that make? I know I'm going up against the all powerful Oprah on this issue, but making your car a no phone zone is not going to solve the problem. Making your car a no-distraction zone would be. But, the phone isn't high on the distration list by a long shot.

And, lest you think I'm just blathering on incessantly, making it all up, check the data from the Highway Data Loss Institute, a non-profit, non-partisan group funded by the insurance industry. By the way, the phone bans that are in effect haven't reduced collision rates at all. You know why? Because they weren't responsible in the first place.

This is one of those times when I'm baffled by my fellow humans. Reality - facts - tell the story. But, we want to totally ignore them because we have adopted another viewpoint. And although that is false - there's nothing to indicate there's any truth to it at all - people hold tightly to it. Why? What is to be gained from ignoring the truth?

"Truth" is a concept I come back to over and over again. I'm a big believer that we can always speak the truth - kindly - but openly. So I do not understand why we want to ignore the truth. To me, "truth" is the pinnacle - it's what we're seeking - it's what we want to know so we can act accordingly. Yet, as a society, we ignore the truth repeatedly - even when it's to the detriment of our own interests.

For example, we know that children who eat dinner with their families are at significantly less risk for drug abuse, alcohol addiction and teenage pregnancy. It has been proven in multiple studies. Yet, the number of families who eat dinner together continues to decrease. Why would we ignore this truth?

Only 7% of Americans live in a traditional family unit, yet we gear nearly 90% of our development efforts toward this elusive family that does not exist. Why? What purpose does that serve? Why do we want to try to attract something that doesn't exist when we could, instead, be trying to attract a demographic that is plentiful?

Sometimes I mention that I'm completely out of step, that I don't understand people. These are examples of why. I cannot understand the viewpoint of those who ignore truth that is indisputable, straight-forward and obvious. But I find myself living in a society that does not value the truth nearly as much as I do. So I'm out of step.

Do I say all of this because I desperately want to talk on my cell phone while driving? No. Frankly, I talk on my cell phone very little. Do I need a law to tell me not to text while driving? No. I'm smart enough to know that already.

I certainly do prefer the freedom to use my cell phone while driving if I feel the need, but it wouldn't be a tremendous hardship to me if I couldn't. But the idea of making it illegal to prevent accidents is foolish. If you really want to prevent accidents, there's a whole long list of things that would net greater results than limiting phone use. The truth points to other issues. Why don't we at least consider the truth instead of holding fast to fallacies?

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