Sharon Hofisi Legal Letters
With your handbag, briefcase or sometimes nothing on your person, the white line calms or unnerves you. Hooting of cars or screeching of vehicle tyres! Occasional obscenities and other observed or participatory harsh exchanges from the pedestrian, driver or serious onlookers always appear mundane.
Glowering, dismissive scorns or dramaturgical body twisting leave the road users riling each other through vindictive language and gestures which threaten to, if not, cyclically poison any human relationship on the road. The aphorisms such as the fact that the “pedestrian is king”, “it is not easy when the road is your driver”, “always anticipate danger”, “the white line teaches you to stay in your lane” and so forth are malevolently discarded with obsession.
How do we relate the white line and road rage to real political set-ups in a country? Is it a real rule? Yes — it is the law of driving something — vehicle, institution, ideology, perceptions, vision, projections, aspirations, dreams and other important aspects of human life.
And even undecided members of a society can decidedly receive crucial political insights depending on their interpretation of the white line(s). Sandwiched between two or more lanes, the line(s) grandly splits political indecision from political certainty and teaches people how to smoothly navigate or live in different lanes, institutions and so forth without animosity.
You may be pondering, what line politics is he talking about? I ask you, curious sage — is it a given that someone standing on the white line(s) will not be hit by a vehicle or negligent driver? Bluntly speaking, is it cast in stone that the white line forces drivers to stay in their lanes?
If so, we wouldn’t be having serious cases of road rage, fatalities or fortuitous collisions right in the middle of the road. So white line politics is simply an ideological and perception law! And ordinary politics invite every undecided person to choose a side to support or dissociate with! Groups them into political clubs! Draws them into youth, women, and main wings for institutional survival, organisational sovereignty, perpetual succession and national governance!
It has driven people to draft party manifestos, constitutions, operational documents, national constitutions, codes of conduct and so forth, and strategic visions on how to “stay in your own lane”. Those who stray and breach the written or unwritten rules are either reprimanded through verbal or written warnings; cautions; various methods of ostracism or mutinies even to the point of dismissal from the institution.
I locate white line politics within ethical realism. The person who says “I’m apolitical”, “I am observing the winds of change”, “I belong to both camps”, “I’m testing the waters”, or those who simply choose to be shift characters, “hwenyakwese” in the Shona indigenous language, are simply playing some “ethical” game-enduring or transient.
What kind of a single or double white line makes road users or members of a polity ruminate on crucial political decisions on: elections, reforms, and good or good enough governance? White line politics sounds utilitarian and allows people to balance between pains and gains. It is attractive! Politically! Those who are politically correct forever feel “comfortable in their uncomfortable zones”. Those meeting waterloos tactically fight for a political comeback.
Ok, if white line security allows a pedestrian to tell a careless driver to stay in his or her own lane, the rule is valuable. If it helps us to better understand why slow moving traffic must always keep to the left of a road, then better makes us bigger and stronger. If it enables qualified road users to distinguish between informative or regulatory sign or consider defensive driving courses to be the best training, then it is the best tool to benchmark good behaviour on the road.
A petty road rule which is doubtlessly a grand political rule! The calculating politician or adaptable member of a society will use it to solicit viewpoints from those in the know so that he is schooled from ignorance to knowledge on political issues. The career or novice politician who is angered by political opponents or colleagues will understand that white lines in politics are sometimes informative: there are no permanent friends or enemies but interests in politics.
Sometimes lines are continuous and mandatory: don’t cross certain party lines! Don’t sink the party ship for personal aggrandisement! Why do you overtake a vehicle when you see a continuous line? You defy the line? Come on! Make a total laughing stock of yourself! Sorry this is not a targeted personal stain on any road user. It is hard-hitting language perhaps. If that is construed as a stain, I repent. But the deliberate disregard of the white line(s) is a big stain itself.
How un-white line worthy it is to say to other citizens: “This political party is useless; that one is useful; its members are good enough to govern this polity”, “It’s my democratic right to choose what I want”, the response to your bragging may be heard loudly and boldly.
“Precisely, you’re well on point”, I strongly agree. “Then white lines are much more important than your own lane or right of way”, I may interject emphatically. Why does the white line assist trained drivers, lawyers, accident evaluators, crime scene attending details, eye-witnesses and courts of law to determine the culpability of a road user? Is it because the point of impact is away from the light line that the trier of facts believes that road carnage will increase if the faulty party is considered credible when the evidence is overwhelmingly against him?
Why do you respect other road-related aspects: sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, stop signs, traffic sequences, speed humps, speed limits and so forth? That type of attitude is the way to the success of this country. And that reason is we all must cherish political decisiveness and choice. Ultimately we will entrench functional political tolerance and a frank belief in political diversity.