What’s the horn for?

What was the purpose for inventing the automobile horn?

Was it to warn another vehicle to avoid an accident? Or was it to communicate anger for another driver’s mistake?

All I know is that in the last three days I’ve made two mistakes and then subsequently I was honked at from the other drivers. Now, I admit fault and that I did make the mistake, but it’s not just the honk to say, “hey buddy you messed up and caused me to adjust what I was doing.” No these honks crossed into the world of anger. The kind that says, “oh yeah, well let me just lay on the horn for a much longer duration then needed.”

Once we cross over from using the horn to communicate with another driver and enter the world of rage, we are now using the horn for ourselves instead of the other person. When my kids start screaming at me because I won’t let them have kettle corn for breakfast, I have to remind them that when they yell louder (or even take a few swings) that it doesn’t change my mind or make me more inclined to give them what they want. Their screams are now for themselves. The screams are not to communicate effectively with me, but are now to make themselves feel better. In the same way when a driver lays on the horn out of rage it will very rarely result in the other driver feeling sorry. Actually it might have the opposite effect.

We do this all the time in our families, friendships or work: we use the tools around us or the capabilities within us to go too far. We move out of the realm of helpful communication and into the wasteland of rage. Once we cross this line, it’s over. Everyone shuts down… no one grows. I just hope the next time someone offends me on the road by their mistake that I’ll have the guts to use my horn for safety or not use it all. We can resist by choosing to not contribute to the pain.

There’s a old fable about a man rowing his boat across the stream when an empty boat floats by and crashes into the side of the man’s boat. The man doesn’t get mad at the empty boat. However, if there was a person in the other boat, for some reason now everything changes. Maybe we just need to treat more situations like empty boats. Life’s good, just chill.

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