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Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

July 17, 2007

“Thou Shall Not Drive Like a Road Hog!”

When students roll back into school parking lots in a few weeks, some will have heard of the new “Ten Commandments” for drivers.

On June 19, the Vatican ‘s Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers released a 59-page document about driving with Christian values. It’s called Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road.

Say what?” a few pundits immediately snickered. “We thought the Church was only worried about what goes on in the bedroom. Now, the pope wants to sit in the back seat and monitor our driving?”

But even teen drivers would agree that the Vatican might have a point. After even a few years of driving, teens often see road rage, horrifying accidents caused by carelessness, and plenty of bad manners behind the wheel, “Cars tend to bring out the ‘primitive’ side of human beings, thereby producing rather unpleasant results,” the document said, stating its case for a look at behavior on the road. In fact, driving is really a life issue explained the cardinal who heads the pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers. “We know that as a consequence of transgressions and negligence, 1.2 million people each year die on the roads,” said Cardinal Renato Martino. The Vatican felt it necessary to address the pastoral needs of motorists, he added, because driving has become such a big part of contemporary life.

So, the “Ten Commandments for Drivers” should be a pretty good place to jumpstart informal class discussions about everyday morality. But get ready for some students who insist that Stop and Yield signs are commonly ignored by everybody, and that nobody really expects drivers to obey the speed limits.

Get some moral mileage from these brand new guidelines for life in the fast lane.

The Ten Commandments for Drivers
  1. You shall not kill.
  2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.
  3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.
  4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.
  5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.
  6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.
  7. Support the families of accident victims.
  8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.
  9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.
  10. Feel responsible toward others.
Suggested Mini-lesson Teaching Strategies *
  1. Summarize accounts about the release of this unusual Vatican document about driving — Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road. Sample students for reactions to the Church’s suggestion that the way people drive IS a moral issue. Do they agree? Disagree? Want to think about it further? If students don’t raise the issue themselves, discuss the “logic” of moral principles applied to everyday situations.
  2. Provide copies of The Ten Commandments for Drivers. Have students break down into small groups to review and discuss the commandments. Have one student in each group record group responses to the following questions/activities. 1. Which commandment seems to be most needed (most violated now)? 2. For them personally, which commandment will be the most difficult to “drive ”with? 3. Were they surprised to see “You shall not kill” which is actually the fifth commandment listed first? Why or why not? 4. Can they visualize Commandment 8 at work? What good things might result from bringing together “guilty motorists” and their victims (or the families of the victims)? 5. List ten or more values or virtues that all Ten Commandments promote.
  3. Creative Learning: As a class, discuss and then plan three strategies for publicizing and promoting The Ten Commandments for Drivers among student drivers, and in the community as a whole. (Suggest commandment posters, cartoons for display in the cafeteria, posted “Did you know?” fact sheets about traffic injuries and deaths, public service style public address announcements made in school, letters to the school paper or local newspaper, etc.)
* Especially appropriate as alternative 30-minute mini-lessons for teachers using Ave texts, Catholic Social Teaching: Learning & Living Justice or
Your Life in Christ: Foundations of Catholic Morality.

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