Rick Wamre: ‘Tis the season of scofflaws?

Rising above the bad behavior to seek peace

I know this is a season of peace and goodwill, that we’re supposedly inclined to be a little more tolerant and loving toward each other.

But down here at street level, where most of us reside because that’s our only choice, I’m not sure we can count on a quiet season of hope and charity.

Already, people are being terrorized on the Katy Trail. And we know for certain, even without having to wait for it to happen, that some of us are going to be victimized in mall parking garages this holiday season.

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And what about that crusty Granbury car driver who decided recently — when two motorcyclists tried to pass him on a road clearly marked with a “no passing” zone — that it was his right to veer into the motorcycles and run them into the pavement. Quite a few broken bones later, he was arrested.

Yes, the law is clear — we aren’t legally allowed to pass in a “no passing” zone. But lacking some legal authority in the vicinity (and when is a “legal authority” ever around when we need one?), this guy either went vigilante to enforce traffic laws or went rogue and broke one law while trying to enforce another.

Of course, this type of behavior doesn’t end with one stubborn dude. Throughout Dallas, it’s not hard to find people willfully disobeying the law, and it’s hard to find anyone doing anything about it.

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It’s not uncommon to drive the 30 mile-per-hour speed limit on one of our residential streets only to be tailgated by someone who feels the need for speed, regardless of the placid surroundings. Am I within my rights to hold my lane, since I’m not breaking a law and the guy behind me clearly wants to, or am I dangerously close to engaging in a game of cat and mouse with a car often twice the size of mine?

Folks deliberately run red lights all the time. People jump lines in stores and check out 15 items in the 10-items-only line. People flip off other people for all kinds of real and imagined slights, none of which really seem worth the anger.

For years, the City Council has crafted city budgets designed to provide three police officers for every 1,000 citizens. In layman’s terms, that means that probably 30 of us are in danger of being watched by a legitimate officer of the law at any one time, while the other 970 of us pretty much have free run of the playground.

Notwithstanding the threat of cameras everywhere, a lot of our neighbors simply have no problem breaking a law, insignificant or otherwise, if they think no one is watching.

There’s an old saying that applies to some extent: “Character is what we do when no one is watching.”

What concerns me these days is that someone is watching just about everything we do, but no one seems to care. That’s not a particularly good recipe for peace, goodwill or a happy life.

So I guess we’re left with two options: Go rogue like some, or do like the song says: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”

Even if the other guy doesn’t want to play along.

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