A licence to think like me

By  Fr. Raby
  • October 25, 2006

“I like people who think like me,” I heard a college professor say in class, dismissing all objections to his claim to infallibility of his lecture on moral values.

I have to admit I feel that way myself at times. Especially at government restrictions aimed at limiting my freedom and by extension that of those in my age bracket. I don’t mean like limiting my freedom to live until natural death, while promoters of euthanasia would have us die by their timetable rather that the Lord’s.

And I am not referring to taxes which can certainly put a limit on my freedom of spending. For I know that taxes, the only other certainty besides death, are necessary if governments are to meet our expectations of what we need.

No, I’m thinking of something that may be minor for young folks, but major for seniors like myself, who in spite of looking their age and a few stumbles here and there, are certain they don’t act their age.

To be specific, it is the effort of government to make our highways safer by encouraging senior drivers to give up driving, by sending us to regular tests, eye tests and a multiple question exam on rules of the road. It’s not that I don’t think these are a bad idea, it’s just they are so unnerving, you’re always wondering on the one hand how much you remember, and on the other how much you have forgotten.

There is no doubt some drivers, because of serious physical or mental problems, should be denied a licence to drive. But perhaps a licence with definite limits could serve another’s simple need without being a threat to anyone.

Having to give up driving is pretty dramatic for a person for whom the car has been a part of their life and who has taken for granted that they could move around for most of their life at the turn of a key.

I know this first hand, for some time after a stroke and later an operation, I wasn’t allowed to drive for weeks even after I felt I could. But the doctor went by his knowledge rather than my feelings and I did what the doctor said.

Sitting next to a young woman at a dinner honouring a priest friend recently, the topic of driving came up as she spoke of her husband’s daily 80-km (50-mile) drive to and from work and her fears of winter driving. She then spoke of the problem of not being allowed to drive at all, which her father, because of his age, was facing.

“So I think we should make allowance for those who are able to drive a short distance to pick up some groceries, or to go to Mass,” she said. Why not give a licence that forbids highway driving but limits them to special times and distance. “I am sure that would help a lot of people,” she said.

Right there I liked that table companion. For to quote the professor I heard, “I like people who think like me.” Which she did.

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