Tyranny of Impulse

February 23rd, 2012 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Like full-grown house cats or kindergarten-aged kids running across the street, impulses are OK…until suddenly they aren’t. Mammals of all types trust their whims, often ducking their heads and looking to the odds and to their previous experience.  Then, blam!

Think of the streets. In many places, certainly the Boston area, we feign obliviousness as we walk between crosswalks, against lights, after sunset wearing dark clothes, pushing our wee ones in strollers from between parked cars, and such. This is beyond depending on the kindness (and alertness) of strangers.

For vehicles, the wheezing cliché is that cyclists are the danger to the rest of us. Maiming and death stats say otherwise. The 3,000 and 4,000-pound motorized weapons of metal and plastic have other humans aiming them. Many of those are distracted any given moment by punching characters into or talking with cell phones in hand. They can neither pay attention nor are inclined to do so. Less than a second of the fantasy of multitasking can be the end of one for more other humans.

Our primitive impulses are often more fraught than ditzy inattention. Consider blowing through stop signs. You add a little intellectual context, as in it’s an uncrowded area, then let the impulse rule. It’s giving control to that lizard brain or the pubescent who still lives inside us.

Nearly always, it works. There’s no one with the right of way coming and no cop with a ticket book looking.

Of course, we’re either real sorry or accusatory when it’s maiming, death or fines. You were swatting a bee in the car, you just didn’t see the sign, you certainly did stop and look both ways, the other driver was speeding and came out of nowhere…

We really do not have the internal wiring to admit how lame and ill-advising our impulses often are. That likely would be denying our obvious brilliance and morality, eh? No matter how many times we’ve goofed up, we keep trusting the feelings.

The solution is the obvious. Throttle the impulse. Save it for performance art. Won’t you think of the children (and everyone else in your world)?

Probably not.



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