The red light dilemma

It was the 4th signal that was red. I did break the earlier three, but decided to stop on this one. There were people who were breaking it in front of me, but I stopped. Soon, people started stopping and waited for the signal to turn green. A small step that I took changed the way things were happening. A very small step changed the behavior of people around me.

I am not very sure why this happened. I’ve tried to look at it from various angles, and this is my conclusion:

When I broke the signals, there was no one there. Other drivers, who broke the signal in front of me, also saw that there was no one who was waiting for light to turn green, and just like me assumed that it is safe to break the signal.

When I decided to wait for the light to go green, then everyone who was passing by was able to see that there’s someone who’s following traffic rules. And felt obliged to wait and follow the rules. Maybe, if I saw someone waiting on the earlier red lights, I would have waited too.

The important question is, why did I stop at the signal? The roads were still empty, and crossing was still as easy as it was on the previous signals. The main reason I stopped was this thought, this curiosity to see what will happen if I will follow the signal. Will people look at me and stop, or will they still break the signal, calling me an idiot. The former was true, and I felt good about it.

We keep on hearing, ‘Be the change that you want to see in the world’, but we always wait for someone else to be that change. We always want someone else to do the right thing and then we might follow them. We always want someone else to take the risk of being considered stupid, or face criticism. We never try to take first step, and we blame the society and government and everyone around for the problems that we face.

Maybe we need to learn to take that first step. Maybe we need to be brave and be ready to be called stupid and to face the criticism. Maybe we need to learn that small steps turn into big ones, and can define what we want to do. What I did was very small thing and I do not see how it will affect the society as a whole, but there are a lot of other things for which we can take small steps and make the difference.

Are you ready to take such a small step to make this society or country a better place? Or do you want to be on the sidelines, and wait for someone else to take the first step? The choice is yours, it always is.

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About Manish Jain

I'm a wanderer in search of solace which has long eluded me.
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