Monday, May 20, 2024
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HomeOpinionCommentaryRoundabouts, railways and highways

Roundabouts, railways and highways

  • Love is life through time 

By Gerard Pemberton

The drivers waiting to enter the roundabout on one side allow you to complete your turn since you are already in the circuit. When they get to the other side, if you are still in the circuit, you must in-turn allow them to proceed before you.

That is a law requiring you to yield or give way to cars on your right. Keep making the right turns and you can remain safely in the roundabout circuit as long as you yield to others when required. When all drivers respect all others in the circuit, roundabouts are amazingly efficient. No one must stop completely for long. There can be a free flow of cars. Not enough opportunity for tempers to flare and hold up the line. Everybody spends less road time arriving earlier at his or her destination. There is a sweet taste to this wonderful experience of discipline and tolerance. Everybody must keep moving forward. Please do not spoil this short story by calling it productivity gains. It is love in traffic in a country where the number of passenger cars outnumbers registered voters.

The cars from Germany, England and even Australia were elegant and to most folks, intended for the distinguished or privileged. Others had the trains where there was beauty to be enjoyed through the windows and admired in the seats. Secondary school attendance by train boys and train girls was 100 percent. Who would want to miss the daily train rides up and down? The railways connected large numbers of rural residents to the emerging elite schools, from the late fifties to the late sixties. Affordable, reliable transport enlarged the intake to the prestige schools in the city. In retrospect, the future of the country was in the schoolbags carried safely on those trains. It was love in transportation that otherwise was not available. From a near-zero base, it was education and prosperity in family life. The railways produced development of minds and enriched communities.

The railways were intended to ferry bulky materials and heavy equipment to the industrial locations and homegrown agricultural products to and from everywhere. Railways still do that in developed countries. Please do not spoil the story with comparisons; be happy for those who enjoyed life through love on our trains. The railway tracks were all laid in lines, mostly straight but sometimes curved, over bridges and streams and in one place, through a tunnel. The tracks were always the same width apart. Trains headed only in one direction or the opposite. Yet the trains were everywhere and brought different things to different people. They connected communities. Our railways, in roundabout ways, facilitated the social media of those times.

In every era, uneducated, fervent minds determine the majority view of society through a medium. This is based simply and securely on justice as mercy. Similarly, the economy is the aggregate of the consumption behaviour of human beings. Unless you debate concepts with economists of decades ago, invisible hands and spirits shape the economy. As of last week in global markets, there was no sure way to do that complex math. Today, even the greatest of the most informed economists do not claim to understand inflation. The people do. A stable society depends on integrity, on social cohesion, which is the aggregate of the dignity of each individual member. Give people time to form and express their views. The social media of today is not effective for that purpose.

In our country, there was a confluence of roundabouts, railways, and highways in certain locations. Most drivers just passed through, even as we now do just in faster cars. These confluences revealed indigenous art, music, technical abilities, and distinctive cultures. The meeting of the rivers enriched the people in those areas, creating swirling tides of change and development in the country. There are stories to be told, novels still to emerge from these waters. There were various confluences, each different in size and each with unique features and character. In these times, we have new ones but with malls, parking lots and mobile rides no railways, just highways. We need more roundabouts to keep us moving forward together in harmony.

Togetherness is essential for a healthy and peaceful life. However, the world changes every day, in every era. Your dignity, as a person is infinite. That never changes. We need to be connected. Love transports us in life through time. Times change continuously. Life changes constantly. Love is the only constant.

The world gets better all the time when we are willing to put aside what we think we know. Do not be a one-track train. Instead, build confluences. Connect new techniques with community and family needs. You cannot re-shape long-established human values and social norms without stopping the community trains in their tracks. That is destructive. Consider new proven knowledge and ideas that create better living conditions and minds that are more productive. Have courage and the good sense to discuss change. Produce better ideas for more harmonious living for all humans. That is the purpose of democracy.

It is governance with purpose with the directive that love is life through time. Democracy is for everyone who recognises and respects the dignity of every human being. Democracy is not an “ism”; it is a way of being human in ways unique to each community. Leaders fashion “isms”; followers define democracy. Remember that it is the tracks that determine where the engine takes the carriages. The reality is that the cart drives the horse. Which should you put first?

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