Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Sheep without a Shepherd

I had a unique and curious experience today. There had been a huge storm during the day in the area around Seven Hills where I am gainfully employed most days. This included thunder, lightning and a blackout.

On my way home, one of the sets of traffic lights at a busy intersection had ceased to function. The reaction of the motorists was most interesting. As they each approached the intersection, like a new dawn dawning upon them came the realisation that no longer would they be able to take mindless cues from multi-coloured lights. Instead they would have to somehow negotiate the traffic coming from all directions, and employ their wits and driving skills (and, indeed, people skills) in order to get where they needed to go. Most visibly hesitated before moving their cars past the line.

The most curious thing was that, in spite of the lights not working, and with a couple of exceptions, the traffic ended up operating very similarly to what it would have done on a normal day.

It generally transpired like this. Someone from one side of the intersection would venture out. Everyone else would wait for him. While he was coming the cars behind him would seize the opportunity and follow him across the intersection. Then a point would come where there was a gap in the traffic from that direction. Immediately someone from another side of the intersection would venture out, everyone else would wait and the same thing would happen again. This became most interesting for those turning right. And yet the same principle seemed to hold for them as well. Thus, the traffic, after initial hesitation, intuitively felt its way back into the ordinary pattern of things, without traffic lights or a policeman or any other voice from above, as it were, telling them to do so (or indeed how to do so). It was entirely spontaneous and intuitive.

Maybe you're thinking this was a rather trivial and pointless observation and I'm about to draw some significant spiritual lesson from it. I'm not. I found the incident fascinating for its own sake. A glimpse into the strange workings of human nature.

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