Molly Fisk: World Peace

Now that the political bumper stickers of the last year are beside the point, my eye keeps being drawn to one about world peace. Actually, it’s not about world peace, it expressly says “Never Mind World Peace: Visualize Using Your Turn Signal.”

Well, this is right up my alley. I am famously short-tempered to begin with, and driving behind some nitwit who veers left unexpectedly, not to mention those delightful people who turn at intersections you’re trying to cross — nearly smacking your front bumper with their unlit red plastic signal covers — causes long strings of inventive profanity in several languages to unspool off my tongue.

When I was a kid in California, driving behavior was legendarily civilized. Children were safe in crosswalks from Mexico to Oregon, and people whose turn signal bulbs had burned out opened their windows even in the rain to use their hands. My relatives in Massachusetts talked about this with awe.

Unfortunately, those courtesies have gone the way of the triceratops. Most drivers are still able to make themselves wait their turn at four-way stops in my rural county, but in cities. . .forget about it. You take your life in your hands today crossing any California street.

The funny thing is, I think this has everything to do with world peace. I think world peace could be achieved by more people using their turn signals. Think about it: what are signals for? They’re a way to communicate with your fellow drivers, to say “This is where I’m going,” and “Look out, I’m turning left here,” or “Slow down, don’t get hurt, I’m changing lanes.” What is this, if not concern for each other, the very bedrock of world peace?

And the converse, of course, is also true: when you don’t signal, the message rings clearly: “I am alone on the road,” or “This street is mine, too bad for you,” or “It’s not my fault you hit that tree because you couldn’t tell I was turning.” Not using your turn signal is base self-absorption — a denial of community in the most immediate way.

Before we go any further, let me assure you that I too sometimes forget to signal — we all have occasional lapses or get distracted, and nobody’s perfect. But when you’ve let yourself really get out of the habit altogether, it’s worth considering why, and maybe putting yourself into a personal turn signal re-training boot camp. Try it! Signal even though you’re in a left- or right-turn-only lane. Signal when no other cars or pedestrians are in sight. Signal at rotaries, why not? It’s all good practice.

Then the next time you’re zipping along in the fast lane and suddenly remember you’re supposed to take this exit, you’ll automatically flick that little lever and not terrify everyone around you by unexpectedly lurching across three lanes. In 30 years, children all over the world — a kinder, more peaceful world — will thank you.

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  • Beth December 9, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    As a turn signal user, thank you.i am horrified about how most drivers where I live don’t use their turn signals I hope more people give this a try.

    • Molly Fisk December 10, 2017 at 4:02 pm

      I’ve seen some good short videos on social media where cops are explaining what the little lever is for, and whenever possible I share them far and wide… Thank you for using yours!

  • Karen Donaldson December 9, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    Wow. “It’s not my fault you hit that tree because you couldn’t tell I was turning.” This one actually happened to me when a driver whose car was sporting a bumper sticker that said, “Visualize world peace, use your turn signal,” failed to follow their own advice and suddenly veered into my lane. I veered along with them to avoid being hit and was unable to stop completely before running into the tree. The irony shouted out to me at the time. My insurance company held them responsible, in spite of their protests that it was somehow my fault. What a coincidence and an important concept to keep in mind. Common courtesy would serve us all well. Peace.

    • Molly Fisk December 10, 2017 at 3:58 pm

      I’m so sorry that happened, Karen, and how dreadfully ironic indeed… Humans. What a pain in the neck they are!

  • Molly Fisk December 9, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    PS Grace, I love the graphic you chose to go with this!

  • Susanna G December 9, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    Thank you, dear Molly, for once again addressing a fraught topic with humor and self-deprecation. I would never have connected the dots–world peace, turn signals–but it makes total sense as soon as I read it!

  • Molly Fisk December 9, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    Good luck! Detachment R us…

  • Mickey M. December 9, 2017 at 10:35 am

    Oh, yes, my pet peeve about other drivers. Here’s my mantra: Signal, then brake! Are these people dyslexic? When you know you are turning, put this signal on, then Brake and turn! Sigh. What a world. Thank you, Molly. My son and I are practicing detachment to avoid the spool of invective, the fingers flipping; those actions are just as liable to get the other driver’s attention in a very negative way, as in pulling out their hand guns! More thanks and much love and virtual hugs.