U.S. Roads Abound with Metaphors for Life

As I was getting off the freeway this morning I was annoyed to find myself stuck at the end of an unusual exit ramp backup. A few moments later I saw the problem: an older model SUV with the hood up. The open driver’s seat door revealed the lower half of a man fiddling under the dashboard.

It was another metaphor for life, especially life here in these United States and especially since the financial crisis brought down the economic roof on the least fortunate sixth or so among us.

It took only one broken clunker to slow down a long line of cars exiting that ramp, including many expensive BMWs, Porsches, Benzes and Lexuses. In different times I might have scowled in passing at the idiot who let his car turn into a bucket of rust. This morning I felt only sympathy, imagining the guy had been out of work and was out looking for a job to help keep the family in food and shoes.

These kinds of incidents remind us that, in our complexly intertwined modern society, there is no safe haven from the troubles that beset the least fortunate among us. The Beijing billionaires breathing smog while stuck in gridlock should know that as well as the Lybian and Egyptian tycoons who find their lives and fortunes turned upside down as ragtag revolutionaries try to rebuild societies to give fair shake to those without special privileges.

I keep seeing articles in the American press about how the discontented masses in China, India, Pakistan, N. Korea and a host of other nations are threatening to bring down governments. It’s time we recognize that the United States of America isn’t immune from similar eventualities unless we recognize that we’re all slowed when clunkers die on our freeways and boulevards or when people get run down as legalized ponzi scheme crumble into splintering stocks and fingers of blame.

Our recent debt-ceiling crisis was another example of how this moral blindness on the part of a small, smug minority threatens the welfare of every American, be they Steve Jobs or the guy trying to fix a dead clunker on an exit ramp. Speaking of Jobs, lets not forget that he would have been forced to retire earlier, not only from Apple but from life itself, had he not received a liver transplant. I don’t know where that liver came from, but it is far more likely to have come from someone like that hapless clunker owner than another tech tycoon.

We are all intertwined in our fortunes, no matter how fantastic or dismal. Demagogues like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, who appeal to the basest, most short-sighted impulses of our fellow citizens, are precisely the kinds of people trying to lead the US of A down the slippery slope toward a me-only society ripe for a Jasmine Revolution of our own.