And now for something completely different: A profile of a Gen Y Driving Vigilante

by Zach Blattner (b. 1982)

There are legitimate reasons for using your horn. Most often, rational human beings reserve their honking for situations of imminent peril – a car is about to move into their lane or someone is about to back into them. In these cases, instinct – by way of a honk – takes over. We honk because we have no other choice.

There are other moments when the horn is used without a clear safety purpose. Say, for instance, someone hasn't realized the light has changed from red to green. This is a honk of awareness with ensured understanding on both sides; the honker is communicating to the honkee that he needs to drive. Another good reason for honking is to say "goodbye" to a group of people close by or to a car that was leading you onto the freeway in a new neighborhood. I'm sure there are other appropriate honking situations as well. In fact, it seems rather simple to delineate between well-intentioned, helpful honks and useless, mean-spirited ones. Or so it would seem.

I only realized recently that a close friend of mine (a bright friend) struggles with this dichotomy. He honks at cars who he believes have committed any sort of driving misconduct. His reason is simple: education through shame.

These unfortunate drivers may be unfamiliar with an area and are therefore driving slower than his acceptable traffic flow. They may have left their blinker on longer than he deems appropriate. They may find themselves in an only left hand turn lane. They may be the old, the sick or the young. He does not discriminate nor contemplate the effectiveness of even a short, quick beep. Instead, he "really slams the horn – that's what it's made for". When asked about his long term objective, he responds that "maybe next time they won't stall in traffic or try to nudge into a shorter toll line."

So I've labeled him a driving vigilante, a man on a mission to right the wrongs of the road with no regard for his own appearance. Like any conflicted super-hero, he isn't overly concerned with public opinion, or the conventional wisdom that honking probably doesn't teach those drivers anything, other than that he is an ass. His vision is a world with better drivers who continually improve – through tragedy and suffering – until they eventually become the Nietzschean ubermensch.

I think I might start honking more.

A Gen Yer argues AGAINST change

As a whole, older generations know Generation-Y as the "ME" generation. In the eyes of many Millennials, if something isn't suitable for us, we change it to be more suitable to our own personal preferences. Millennials have been raised this way. Our parents told us, "Do whatever makes you happy," or, "You can do anything you want." These are both stellar ideals, even in a less than ideal world.

There are things that some of us can't do. People with serious physical limitations can't perform the duties of a firefighter. Becoming an EMT may not be a good choice for someone with an aversion to blood. Women can not become Catholic priests.

I, like probably most young, politically liberal Catholics, am asked by my non-Catholic and Catholic friends alike for my opinion on the last scenario. Why shouldn't there be women priests? I don't know the entire theological argument for this point, but I am a firm believer in the Church's position: I don't ever want to see female priests.

Society has changed for the better in the past forty years. Women are a major part of the workforce. Men are increasingly staying at home. But even with these changes in society, men and women remain different.

Women received an incredible gift in the beginning with the ability to carry children in the womb. It takes incredible mental and physical strength to see a pregnancy to completion. Though it may seem sexist, I think women are stronger than men and better suited for childbirth. I know I couldn't handle the pain inherent in childbirth.

I believe that pregnancy is a gift because of a difficult personal loss my wife and I experienced two years ago. We lost our son, Joseph Michael Koutsoufis, stillborn at full term.

I envy the woman's role in pregnancy because my wife spent forty quality weeks with Joseph, nurturing his growth inside her. She carried and protected him until the last week. Other than feeling him kick occasionally, my only contact with Joseph was after he passed. I cradled Joseph's lifeless body in my arms. I ran my fingers through his rust colored hair. I swabbed blood from his lips because his skin started to decompose in the womb. I sat in the front pew for his funeral Mass trying unsuccessfully to be a rock for my family. I knelt at Joseph's casket graveside and said good bye.
by Daniel Koutsoufis (b. 1982)

I often wish that I had that nine months with Joseph, but I'm happy that my wife did instead. She deserved that personal experience. As Far Eastern traditions teach us, life is about balance; Yin and Yang. As Catholicism teaches us, women can choose to sacrifice their bodies for the life of a child, while men can sacrifice having children for the privilege of becoming a Catholic priest. Balance.

Catholic society has existed in roughly its current form for two millennia, emerging from the contemporaries of Christ. Gen-Y is an incredible group of people. But, who are we to think that we should be able to change apostolic tradition just because we don't agree with it? When did our opinions become more important than those of Saint Peter and Saint Paul? The Catholic Church changed enough as a result of the Second Vatican Council. Let's leave well enough alone.