Highway to escapism leads down a dangerous path


Sometimes it feels like I am the only sane person on the road.

Please don't take it the wrong way. That isn't a prideful statement, really. It's just an observation, though one that pops up more often in my mind these days. I feel like it's now the norm to wander through life in an oblivious mental fog. And it's an intentional one at that.

It's been said that "ignorance is bliss." At times I think that those who embrace such a view or intentionally tune-out are happier. But since God gave me (and you) a brain, special talents and so much of an interest in the world around us, I can't just put my head into "stun mode." I don't want to sleep walk through life or hide from it. I want to get the most out of every moment each day. That requires being involved and paying attention.

When it comes to things that are most important in life, I want to believe all of the men and women I see around me are paying as much attention and viewing life as I do. I know that's not the case, however, and I have plenty of fresh examples I could share with you. 

Here's one to consider: A big rig truck jackknifes on a major highway.  Traffic snarls there, and then it all backs up like a clogged drain, onto other freeways. Freeway warning signs light up advising drivers to avoid the mess. All media outlets report every aspect about the tie-ups all day long, for hours on end.

During the occurrence, hundreds of other drivers continue to blindly merge into the bumper-to-bumper zone, totally clueless about what's going on. I have often said that terrorists don't need to do more than trash a big truck to paralyze our city. Heaven forbid that, but it gives me pause to mull it over. Given the lack of concentration of our fellow citizens, it's a concern.

While these thoughts come to me most often when I'm behind the wheel, I like to define "on the road" as more than a street or freeway. The road of life is big and broad and uncharted. It's often strewn with speed bumps and unexpected potholes. While it may be safer to stay home and not venture out, better adventures await.

Every day we choose one road or another, a new path or a trail that leads to exciting possibilities… or takes us back to old problems. When trying to cope with daily ups and downs, its no surprise that so many Americans appear to seek ways to sort of "check out" instead. They work hard at cruising through life as if their minds were turned off and tucked away in a blind trust.

We all need some vacation from time to time, enjoying the renewal it brings. But here's the challenge: Now people who ought to be spending more time learning and deeply understanding what's really going on in our world are opting out.

Fear not
Back to the actual freeway: At any moment there are dozens, even hundreds of drivers around us. We want to trust their ability behind the wheel. We need to assume they have certain basic driver safety skills.  Drive defensively, yes. But driving in total fear of others is another thing.

Even if I take a break from talk radio and put on some of my eclectic iPod music, I can't help letting my mind wander to news and statistics and odds as the music plays.

For example, how many of the supposedly normal, everyday folks around me are not in good shape at all? Who is struggling emotionally? What do the stats show about the average number who might be spaced out on drugs or alcohol? What about driving without a license or insurance? The mentally ill? Which ones have anger management issues? Who needs some empathy, or a friend?

Who needs to know Christ?

FEAR is a funny thing, an acronym that can often stand for "False Evidence Appearing Real." So I tell myself it's OK. Everyone's probably fine. Or are they? Reagan said, "trust but verify." So do a little more verification, please.

I know it's not my problem to fix all the "stuff" out there or to let it all make me paranoid. So at those moments I realize that I really should turn to prayer. I need to pray for those around me, while praying fervently to get home in one piece.

Silly priorities
We are at a point in our nation where only God knows where we're going on the road ahead. And I thank God for that, too. Please note that I spell God with a capital "G," and we don't have to debate the subject like one political convention did last year.

No wonder we are facing big problems in the USA with so many serious issues. We now vote whether to include God or not. And then we get more concerned about what the Kardashians are up to rather than what's happening to our country.

Americans are often burned out on politics and bad news, and they are frustrated that our nation keeps making some of the same mistakes over and over and expecting a different result. Embracing more escapism is the theme of each day.

Meanwhile, politicians are masters at manipulating the masses with promises of "We're in charge, it will all be fine ... trust us." Many of these leaders are trustworthy, scores of others are not. And they'd prefer we skip thinking about the important issues, being content to just head down the highway, ignoring reality.

Something to really think about when we travel the many roads of life every day.

Larson is a veteran Southern California radio/television personality and media consultant. His voice is heard on KPRZ 1210AM, and his weekday talkshow airs mornings 6-9 on KCBQ 1170AM. Email: mark@marklarson.com.

Published, March 2013
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