"Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain, even if thou art following an exceedingly slow driver."
That's not one of the pope's new "10 Commandments for the Road," but it should be. It's amazing how one Sunday driver can make a whole bunch of drivers behind him use language not suitable for the Lord's day.
We're not talking about mumbling "gosh darn it." Road rage makes people shout full-fledged curses in unacceptable tongues. Words spoken on the road sometimes sound like they need to be run through a catalytic converter at least once so they don't pollute the air.
The new road commandments also claim that "impoliteness," "rude gestures" and other expressions of "unbalanced behavior" are sinful.
It's going to be tough for some of us to make a U-turn on the road to hell, now that the road construction season has started.
Technically, the 36-page document that the Vatican released earlier this month is called "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road." But listed among moral guidelines for motorists are 10 numbered "commandments."
"1. You shall not kill."
I was pretty sure that jokingly assigning point values to pedestrians was crossing the line.
"2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm."
Let our people merge.
"3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events."
Allow another driver to go first from a four-way stop, regardless of whether he has the right of way, especially if he already has started. Pulling in front of him might be "upright" by law, but not too "prudent" by commandment.
According to an Associated Press article I read, the "Ten Commandments" caution motorists against allowing the car to be "an occasion of sin," perhaps by picking up speed for "a dangerous passing maneuver," the article surmised, or picking up a prostitute for, well ... most motorists don't need a commandment to figure that one out.
The fifth commandment says "cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination."
"Cars particularly lend themselves to being used by their owners to show off, and as a means for outshining other people and arousing a feeling of envy," the Vatican explained in the guidelines.
Vanity is sinful. A reason not to wax.
The Vatican's set of commandments asks motorists to "exercise a host of Christian virtues: charity to fellow drivers, prudence on the roads, hope of arriving safely and justice in the event of crashes," AP explained.
These are good things. But are the commandments specific enough?
If I listed commandments, I'd include:
- You shall not covet your neighbor's convertible.
- Honor and obey your driver's education instructor, especially if it's your father, who owns the car.
- Don't bear false witness against your fellow driver, even if you think it will look good on the accident report.
- Don't steal my wheels.
- Keep holy on the highway, within 5 to 7 mph of the speed limit.
- Kids, quit steaming up the car windows at the end of dates.
Contact Gary Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.