February 10, 2010
"Unsticking Our Accelerators"
The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
Most of us have heard that Toyota is in the process of recalling nearly ten million cars because of the danger of their accelerator pedals getting stuck. More than a dozen deaths and serious injuries have been caused by this problem and so Toyota is now offering to replace all of the potentially problematic accelerators without cost to the drivers. We are all hoping that no more injuries occur before this massive recall effort is completed.
I have another idea for a massive recall effort, but I can't quite figure out a way to make this happen. If any of you have an idea how to do this, please let me know! I would like to find a way to organize a recall effort for the tens of millions of people (the number is probably much higher in reality) whose accelerators are already stuck, or are in constant danger of that happening at any moment. These are the people (like myself--it takes one to know one) who are stuck on living their lives at way too fast of a pace. These are the people who define themselves by what they do, by how many hours they work, by how many social engagements they have, by now many friends they have on Facebook, by how large their big screen TV is, by how many activities their children are enrolled in, by how many emails they get in a day, etc, etc. I'm worn out just writing this list!
As a culture our accelerators are stuck, and worse yet, we seem to admire and celebrate this! Don't we realize how fast we are currently going and how the pace seems to be only accelerating? In addition to this hyper-activity, there are other ways our accelerators can become stuck. It seems that everyday I encounter at least one person whose worry accelerator is stuck. One worry snowballs into another and soon the worry accelerator is also stuck to the floor. After all, there IS so much to worry about. And because so many other folks are overwhelmed with worry, it begins to seem normal.
Our busy-ness and worry accelerators becoming stuck at high speed is accepted as normal today. It's as if we are all driving down the highway at 120 mph because our accelerators are stuck; if we're all going the same speed it seems normal and we lose perspective of how very "stuck" we are.
Obviously, there can never actually be a recall effort regarding the inner accelerators that determine both the speed at which we live and the amount of time we spend worrying. There cannot be a recall because no one else can fix these accelerators for us; we are the only ones who can make the necessary repairs.
So why not take the Toyota recall as an opportunity to do just that? With the help of God, your Higher Power, family and friends, do the counter-cultural thing and intentionally slow down--even just a little. Start by taking a few very deep breaths, and reflecting on how you can begin easing off the accelerator. Doing this will make you a safer driver, not only for yourself, but for the passengers and pedestrians around you.