aliya 298 nefesh benefes.
(photo credit: Nefesh Benefesh)
How many people in Israel are color blind? I wonder whether the Central Bureau of Statistics has figures on that one. It should, because it seems that increasing numbers of people have difficulty in distinguishing between red and green. What other reason could there be for the blatant jay-walking on even the busiest of intersections?
Without wanting to generalize or insult a whole segment of the population, it seems that color blindness is most common among people with American accents - both residents and tourists - and stranger still, the majority of those people wear head coverings and many of the men have white fringes hanging over their waistbands.
Their most frequent flouting of the law is on Shabbat and Jewish festivals, when they take the attitude that if they're going to or coming from synagogue services, Heaven will protect them against the Sabbath desecrators.
It would be funny, if it wasn't so serious. The attitude is straight from Chelm.
IN ATTRIBUTING their suicidal habits to color blindness, I'm actually giving them the benefit of the doubt.
I've often been tempted to shout: "Did you come to Israel to become a traffic accident statistic? If so, we don't want you. We have enough of our own people who break the rules. We don't need any more."
Sometimes I wish there was such a thing as citizen's arrest, so that those of us who do wait for the lights to change can do something to restrain those who don't.
It's understandable if not necessarily excusable when someone scurries across the road against the lights to catch a bus that runs infrequently. But crossing the road against the light simply because one is too impatient to wait is not only criminal and dangerous, but also stupid.
It's an interesting phenomenon, but in walking through Jerusalem, which I do daily, I have never seen a jay-walking nun or priest. The discipline of the Church overlaps into their daily lives and like other law-abiding people they wait for the lights to change.
Sometimes those of us who wait exchange looks of dismay or incredulity when we see someone paying no heed to oncoming traffic and blithely crossing the road. If we make eye contact with that person, we are confronted with a jeering expression that plainly says "sucker." Maybe, but I'd rather be a sucker in full control of my body than a crippled jay-walker.
The worst offenders are people who are wheeling baby carriages or strollers. How dare they be so negligent with the lives of their children? When my late husband encountered such mindless behavior, he would slow down the car and yell at the foolhardy parent: "I really don't care what happens to you, but it would be such a shame to harm the baby."
Pedestrians who cross against the lights have no concept of what this does to a driver who narrowly avoids them or to the passengers in the car - even if they are wearing seat belts. In swerving, the driver may hit another car or may be hit by another car. Passengers would be jolted and could experience some degree of whiplash. Also the thought of how close the driver came to maiming somebody, if not killing them outright, can weigh very heavily on the nerves and affect a person's behavioral patterns.
Jay-walking becomes even more inexcusable in a cell-phone era. Anyone running late can call in advance of their meeting and explain.
There used to be a road-safety slogan: "Better to arrive late than dead on time."
It's still applicable.