by Laura Sillerman | bio

I live across from a high school. Every morning seven yellow buses pull up and, one by one, slowly eject tired teenage girls. After the girls disembark, the bus drivers walk through the aisles checking for abandoned articles. Then they beep their horns and wait for someone to retrieve the students’ belongings.

This happens five days a week, while traffic piles up on the street, respecting — as traffic should — the sanctity of transporting young people to where they can learn and become good citizens.

Sometimes my daughter is in one of the waiting vehicles, becoming progressively closer to being late to her own school as I try not to lose my temper over her compatriots across the street who can’t remember to check for their own possessions.

This morning as she was heading out to the car, a school bus behind us had to wait. The bus driver leaned on his horn. He didn’t like having to stop while a girl with a backpack took nine seconds (I counted) to get into the car.

I asked myself: How many times have I been just like that bus driver? How many times have I disturbed the peace by beeping in protest against something I myself often did?

We all drive the same roads. Beeping horns over having to wait our turn, or feeling disregarded, or wanting our entitlement to be acknowledged, is simply undemocratic.

In this time of heated elections, we are witnessing candidates who need to keep their cool occasionally blow it. We are hearing outbursts and outrage. And it isn’t going to get any prettier as things grind toward the summer conventions. 

Blaring insults and innuendos is noise pollution. With so much at stake, it’s probably inevitable. But we need to remember who is on the bus.

We model the democratic process with every single election — local, state and national. We dissect our desires and take our stands. We supposedly share common goals that are outlined in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We are trying to make our country a good, safe and generous place on this earth.   

So we need to check ourselves for beeping. We can know precisely why we support the candidate we do and why we believe that candidate will improve things. We can listen to what others hope for from their candidates.

We can model hope for the young.

None of this is news. It’s just what happens when you notice a noise that didn’t need to be made. It’s wishing everyone would think before they leaned on the first thing at hand to mark their impatience. It’s thinking we have an opportunity to stop and watch for nine seconds as we and our fellow citizens try to get it right.

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  • Creel McCormack February 11, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    We old friends of Laura Sillerman call it The Laura Factor … the perfect set of words or analogy to posit an issue. Well said, Laura.
    Despite our different preferences on who can take us forward in leading the country, I’m reflecting so positively on this election. Who ever thought we’d have a female or African American as the leading contenders? I never dreamed my daughter and her 20-something friends would become so passionate and engaged, filling cyberspace with blogs about the various candidates. This is good!
    Creel McCormack