I routinely drive a stretch of road which is predominantly driven by morning commuters, running four lanes each direction including a HOV lane with a speed limit of 55 mph. The stretch of road is no more than ten miles long and there are never any less than two police cars set up for traffic along this stretch and sometimes as many as four or five police vehicles in this same, limited section of highway. I don’t remember a time on that road where at least one of the police vehicles has not had at least one car pulled over.
That has amazed me; there are always multiple police cars along this stretch, they always are pulling people over and the people who are traveling this part of the road are predominately commuters who are presumably familiar with the area and the presence of law enforcement. Yet, there continue to be people who defy logic and get pulled over for speeding or illegally driving in the HOV lane. I mean, even if you just really like to speed, wouldn’t you slow down in an area where you know the chances of you getting a ticket go up dramatically?
I have clients all the time who are habitual offenders and not always people who would be grouped in with what most people would consider as a typical criminal profile. Some of them have financial problems that lead to unpaid fines and a suspension of their driver’s license. Once they are not allowed to drive, they are between a rock and a hard place because they need to get to and from work to make money to pay the fines to get their license re-instated but are not allowed to drive to and from work unless they go through the effort to get their license status upgraded to restricted from suspended. So, they drive, they get caught and things get worse for them in a hurry as the second offense often brings some jail time and the third offense brings mandatory jail time.
I was thinking about it and I think it comes down to people’s perception of the greater need. They think they need to get somewhere in such a hurry that the need to get there trumps the need to avoid a speeding ticket and the gamble is justified by the perceived greater need. They need to get to work and the risk of getting caught is still a variable whereas work is a need right now so the risk is justified by the priority of perceived need.
We all can do this in so many areas of our life. We perceive that we need a bigger house, a new car, a promotion, a relationship or whatever else it is that drives us at a certain time and our behavior becomes focused in on that perception. We are able to easily justify our decisions based on our seemingly rational justification in order to reach the end goal.
What’s important is to be grounded in our discernment of needs vs. wants and priorities which are True vs. desires that become our priority. When we trust the culture which operates on the same flawed logic towards the illusion of an oasis in a wasteland of temporary satisfiers, then we will end up making choices that result in consequences which we did not intend. Choices that result in damaged relationships, neglected priorities and shallow character because our end goal was never anything that was True and Eternal. We chase the temporary at the sacrifice of the Lasting, when the lasting sacrifice provided provision for now as well as later.