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  • Karen L

War in 2022

At dinner in a lovely restaurant, I remarked to friends, "soon there will be a civil war." One of the friends responded, "we are in a war, just not with actual weapons." I thought a moment about our divided country and lives and agreed. Actually, a white supremacist used an automatic gun in Buffalo to kill African American people. Another battle occurs everyday on our roads and highways.

Today, three black SUV's displayed unwarranted aggression to me in a short period--one honked for no apparent reason; one tailgated and sped into another lane; and--the most egregious act--one passed behind and around me and turned, as I yielded to oncoming traffic (to make a left turn).

A few days ago, I stood beside an Escalade and measured my height in comparison. I am 5 feet 2 inches. The SUV was approximately a foot higher. The running boards were about 12-18 inches above the ground. Who, except a very tall person, can get in a seat?

Shiny, black monstrocities dominate our biways. For some reason, black is the color of choice, though grey and white are also popular. The killing machines run lights, tailgate, honk, pass, and speed, disregarding traffic. Some call these instruments of hell oversized SUV's and pick-up trucks.

Through a collusion of oil companies and car manufacturers, Americans purchase these objects with increasing frequency. How do they afford these oversized, expensive machines of terror and potential destruction? What about the cost of filling the gas tank? The marketing I have seen depicts these vehicles driving in any terrain--Buy one. You too could be adventurous. Nearly no one would ever drive over rocks and chasms to reach the edge of a remote cliff. The commercials are macho pipe dreams.

The driver--cis gender or not--sits high above the traffic, as if they have been annointed rulers of the road. Theirs is not a benign domain. They rule by intimidation and fear. Their subjects are average drivers who choose to obey traffic rules. The war pits huge gas guzzlers vs. typically sized cars. The gluttons of fossil fuel--aka the bad guys--block the view of traffic for the good guys. We, on the good side, cannot manuever into parking spaces see oncoming traffic, or merge safely. A good guy in a Prius does not have a chance if a bad guy in an Escalade crashes into him/her.

As I have written before, there is no logical reason why anyone needs a huge Escalade, Denali, or Tahoe. Station wagons, though not exactly green, carried large families on vacation for years. Modern car racks and sleek, nifty storage units remove the need for extra large family cars. Years back, certain people drove Hummers as a macho statement. Now, many family vehicles are modeled on military transport. We are in a war. Did you know that the Suburban, Dodge Ram Pick-up, Mercedes G Class, Hummer, and Jeep Wrangler are based on actual military trucks?

It is well known that police departments receive or purchase decomissioned military materiel. Now, that trend has trickled down to the general population. Think about it--clothing with a camoflage print are uber popular for men, women and, children. Of course, guns are omnipresent. Specialty stores sell equipment and garments based on military uniforms. We are in battle mode.

I have no proof if the war on the roads divides like nearly every aspect of American life today. Consumers who choose the camo pattern are not necessarily radical conservatives. However, I have a hunch that men and women who drive the most extreme gas guzzling vehicles are climate deniers, libertarians, and fervent 2nd amendment rights followers.

To be fair, owners of BMW's and other sports cars typically drive too fast. Drivers in SUV's manufactured by sports car companies tend to speed, as well. However, it is more intimidating to be cut off on a highway by a large vehicle than a smaller one. Vans and smaller SUV's do not demonstrate great miles per gallon, but I cannot expect every person to drive a small automobile. The monstrosities I refer to are the extreme machines sold to make a statement.

Crazier driving began during the pandemic when roads were empty which is no longer the case. The pandemic is one crisis that has divided the United States. Add to that climate change, immigration, abortion, human rights, racism, and voting. I believe we can tag onto the list the vehicles Americans purchase and the manner in which they drive. Most importantly, these conflicts demonstrate a widening gap in priorities, values, and regard for our neighbors near and far.


© 2022 Karen Levi

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