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Yellow lines

It was a long, straight stretch of highway. This is not unusual, as America abounds with long, straight stretches of highway. The sky was a crystal clear blue, and I could see almost to the horizon, front and rear.

Every so often, a car would approach and we would flash past one another at 75 miles per hour (the legal speed limit in that state). It occurred to me as one particularly beautiful car flashed past that if that driver had veered into my lane as we were passing, his 75 miles per hour plus mine would add up to a combined impact of 150 miles per hour! I thought, “Wow, I sure am glad we stayed in our lanes!”

Just then an admittedly strange thought came to mind, “Why are you driving on only one side of the road, Ben?”

“Well,” I replied to myself, “this is the side of the road I’m supposed to drive on!”

But do you know you can cross over to the other side of that line?

“Yes, I know I can, but I’m not supposed to!”

I could not believe I was having this conversation with myself. After several more cars zipped by, it occurred to me that every car stayed on their side as if there were a wall down the middle of the road. But there was no wall. Just a yellow line was holding back automobiles whizzing past each other at 75 miles per hour. Amazing!

As I drove, I thought more about that yellow line. The asphalt on both sides was just as smooth and level; there was no traffic in front or behind me, and I had plenty of time to get back to my side if any cars came along.

Why not drive in the other lane for a while?

I said to myself, “I’m not supposed to!”

Don’t cross that line!

“I can if I want to, but I’m not supposed to!”

But there’s nothing stopping you!

I wasn’t missing the point. I knew what I was not supposed to do.

It was simple but profound. The truth of the matter was, I really could cross that yellow line. I had the complete freedom and ability to do so; there was no physical impediment. The temptation was almost irresistible. I checked the rearview mirror, looked up and down and sideways, and then I gently steered my car across the yellow line into the left lane. I had done it! Immediately I felt my heart pounding and my palms began to sweat.

“This is wrong! I’m not supposed to be here!”

I turned the wheel and darted back into my lane. As I drove in my own lane for a while, my heartbeat returned to normal and my hands stopped sweating. As I drove along, I wondered, “Why was I so scared?” There was no traffic, and I could see for miles front and back, so it was perfectly safe. So I did it again! This time I forced myself to drive about a quarter mile down that long deserted road, then I pulled back into my lane and stayed there.

(Let me take a moment to state as clearly as possible that I am not advocating, suggesting or even hinting that anyone try that. It is stupid and irresponsible and should not, under any circumstances, be done. I had never done it before or since.)

As I continued my journey, a revelation – a sudden, liberating, yet sobering, glimpse into a deep truth – permeated my thought processes. The implications were powerful, yet frightening. In context, this is perhaps one of the most frightening concepts ever to strike the human mind – the concept of individual freedom – the absolute liberty we have as human beings. We are endowed with the power of choice and this, of necessity, involves both liberty and license. As a human being, I have the power, liberty and freedom to do anything I choose. Only human beings have this power, this free will, this ability to do whatever they feel, think, desire or are motivated to do.

In Western civilization, and America in particular, laws were made not for the purpose of punishment, but to ensure that mankind could enjoy and participate in the liberties endowed by the Creator. This was understood by our Founding Fathers and is the basis for the phrase that all men are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” and “to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” (Emphasis added) No one is authorized to encroach upon our liberties unless we give them permission. Anyone who deliberately tramples upon the rights of another is rightly and justifiably called a dictator or a tyrant.

Divergent views to the contrary, only the Judeo-Christian Bible – the basis of Western civilization – recognizes man’s sovereignty and accords him the right to act according to conscience. Central to this concept is the awareness that our fellow human beings are also endowed with these same fundamental rights. You stay on your side of the line, and I stay on my side, and we can both enjoy the pursuit of happiness.

The purpose and intent of the yellow line is not to punish but to ensure our safety and liberty. Visualize everybody doing just as they please, with no yellow lines governing human behavior. Imagine the chaos on highways without yellow lines or a society without biblically based laws.

Our laws are the yellow lines, designed to prevent reckless behavior on the highway of life, to discourage and restrain lawless behavior in society.