I sat in the right hand lane of the road, about three hundred feet from the access lane to the freeway on-ramp. Traffic was backed up pretty badly, and it looked like I may have been sitting three hundred feet away from the on-ramp for a few minutes. Fine. No big deal. I was on my way home from work, and not in any particular rush to get anywhere. And then someone behind me pulled onto the berm and zipped up to the on-ramp. Then another, and another. There was soon a steady stream of cars violating established traffic policy by driving on the berm. “What’s so important?” I asked myself, as I watched these people bypassing the line, and acheiving my ultimate destination ahead of me. What was the rush? What was so pressing that these people couldn’t wait in line another 3 minutes?

I have the same reaction towards all this recent hubbub about road rage. I know people who get violently upset when another motorist cuts in front of them. I know people who get upset sitting in traffic. I know people who scream obscenities at little old ladies driving in the slow lane on the freeway. And I just don’t get it. What purpose does it serve to get upset over these things? How will screaming at someone who can a) not hear you, and b) not care about what you’re saying make any difference in your life? And more often then not, the people who do the screaming are likely to turn around and commit the same offence within 24 hours.

I was having a conversation about movies that had been made from books with a co-worker of mine last week. Of course, Frank Herbert’s Dune came up. My co-worker is a fanatical fan of all the Dune books, and so claims that the film is utter drivel. He has not one nice thing to say about the film adaptation at all. Never having read the book, I will (and do) contend that it’s a good introduction to the world of Arakis, and the various Houses. I truly enjoy the movie. One day I’ll read the book. But my co-worker gets visibly worked up in his distress at the inaccuracies and chanegs between film and book.

He feels the same about Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. Again, I’ve never read the novel. But I enjoyed the movie. It was a fun action romp a la Aliens. I didn’t go to Starship Troopers looking for amazing character development, or an intricate plot; I went for a fun sci-fi action flick. But once again my purist co-worker will spit on the film, and generally present the attitude that anyone who likes the film is a moron.

I recognize that no movie will ever compare to the quality of the source upon which it is based. I’ve been disappointed with several book-to-movie transitions. But I know going in that there is going to be some content that will be modified for the general public’s consumption. For example, from what I know of the original Dune story the Weirding Way was purely voice - there was no technical weirding module as in the movie. And with Starship Troopers, there was appearently a good bit more to the armor they were wearing. In both of the cases above, what was done for the movie worked fine to introduce the casual observer to the themes at hand. I probably would have been turned off by overt mysticism had the weirding modules been excluded from the film. And I would have felt bogged down in technical detail had the armor been laboriously explained.

What I don’t understand is why people are so adamant about their point of view. What makes their opinion any more valid than mine? I heartily disagree with my purist co-worker, but I acknowledge his opinion as valid. I recogize that his opinion is his, and I make no effort to change it. He’s perfectly entitled to be disappointed/let down/angry at the disparities. But to degrade the effort of the work that went into it defeats his purpose, I think. It also turns people off to other things which he may be a fan of. If he disparages movie X to me, then I’m inclined to avoid talking to him about movie Y which is in the same genre.

Tolerance is the key. Just because I like it doesn’t mean I’m an idiot. It doesn’t mean the film sucks. It doesn’t mean that the person who cut you off in traffic doesn’t know how to drive. It doesn’t mean that the slow driving little old lady ought to have license revoked. Tolerance. There may well be factors involved of which you don’t have a clue. Mechanical issues with an automobile, or a sincere difference in interpretation of the text for a movie.

Zealotry in any form is to be avoided.

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