Wisdom > Faith

Is it time to go biblical on Metro Manila traffic?

Here are 10 passages that might help

The Bible is more than just a book on ethics. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Seeing as worldly rules and secular encouragements appear to have little to no positive effects, maybe it’s time to go biblical on Metro Manila traffic. Literally.

I may not be the religious type, but I did go to a Roman Catholic school once that was run by Benedictine monkssomething that I never thought might come in handy while working for a mobility publication.

So, please allow me to present to you 10 passages from the Good Book, and how they could be applied to what’s happening on the road.

Too many people think they are more important than others. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

1. Matthew 22:39: Love your neighbor as yourself

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

It’s easy to see how this could be applied to Metro Manila traffic. The levels of hostility and anger on display every day are shocking. This principle encourages road users to treat others with respect and consideration, fostering a mindset of mutual respect and reducing aggressive behavior.

2. Galatians 5:22-23: Exercise patience and self-control

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”

Practicing patience and self-control can lead to fewer instances of reckless driving, honking and irritability, contributing to smoother traffic flow. Sometimes it is really worth thinking if the few seconds you save on the road is worth the stress you put yourself and others under.

3.  James 1:19: Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger

“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”

Quick to listen could mean to wait until you know the whole story. A car is slowing down in front of you? Instead of hitting the horn, maybe check if he has a problem or is stopping for someone. Slow to speak and slow to anger could be interpreted as being careful what we say to others, as words can be hurtful. In a nutshell: Handling stressful driving situations calmly can help drivers make safer decisions and avoid conflicts.

Harboring anger and bitterness toward others will only harm you. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

4. Philippians 2:3-4: Consider others as more important than yourself

”Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

Promoting humility and consideration for others can improve driving etiquette and lead to a better mobility environment for everyone. Two simple examples here would be to stop for pedestrians at crossings and to look out for more vulnerable road users such as cyclists.

 5. Luke 6:31: Observe the Golden Rule

“And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.”

I once said that the Philippine highway code was probably written by Aleister Crowley and simply consists of one sentence: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” But maybe it would be better if it were simply based on the Golden Rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” This would encourage empathy and fairness on the road, and lead to more courteous behavior. None of us like being cut off, honked at, or tailgated. So, why do we do it to others?

6. Romans 12:18: Be at peace with everyone

“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”

You could interpret this in a number of ways, but the way I like to see it is this: It’s just not worth it to get upset about the driving behavior of others. It only makes your day worse, and doesn’t change a thing about the other guy. Striving to live peacefully with others can reduce road rage and aggressive driving.

7. Exodus 20:16: Do not bear false witness

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

If you encounter a fender-bender, it’s usually best to be honest. You dented someone’s car in the mall parking lot? Be honest and take care of it. This one comes back to the Golden Rule again. 

Traffic rules exist to maintain peace and order on the road. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

8. Matthew 5:9: Blessed are the peacemakers

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

You’ll be surprised how far a bit of calming kindness can go in heated situations. My wife keeps making fun of me because I encourage her to be nice to everyone while driving. She asks what the point is if everyone else isn’t polite. But I truly believe that promoting peace among drivers can reduce conflicts. Drivers who act as peacemakers help create a more cooperative and pleasant driving environment. A smile and a wave are always nicer than an angry face and some choice language.

9. Exodus 20:15: Do not steal

“You shall not steal.”

Don’t grab something from the back of other people’s car or steal their vehicle, but there are smaller applications to this as well. Drivers should avoid actions that unfairly take advantage of others, such as cutting in line or taking parking spots dishonestly (remember when people started doing this?).

10. Romans 13:1-2: Respect the authorities

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.”

There are tons of traffic rules and laws in Metro Manila, but most seem to be mere suggestions to many people. Which in turn is why the place is such a mess. Encouraging respect for traffic laws and authorities can improve overall road safety. Obeying speed limits, traffic signals, and law enforcement helps maintain order and prevent accidents. Of course, this point should also apply to the authorities themselves—they who should hold themselves to the highest of standards.

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring. He writes the aptly named ‘Frankly’ column.