The Road

Dianne St. Jean
The Road

Symbolically roads have come to represent a person’s journey in life, reflecting decisions and the value of experience.

And while philosophers of life may approach the topic from different perspectives, it is evident that roads, regardless of who or what travels on them, carry a singular, original purpose.

Whether they begin as a footpath or a new highway, a road is intentional. It’s meant to either lead us to somewhere, something or someone, or away from them. As the old saying goes, it runs both ways.

An article written by Mackenzie Scott from CBC (see page 7) describes how the building of a highway to Tuktoyaktuk has changed the lives of people living there. They are getting to meet new people, share their culture, and even benefit economically. As one person commented, “There is a lot of people getting opportunities that they never would’ve gotten without the road.”

A road is meant to open things up. It’s about access and sharing.

But roads can also be private, restricting access to only select individuals. The idea that we can take something that represents, or should represent, absolute openness and close it up – tells us about another aspect of life.

Why do people sometimes restrict access on their ‘private roads’?

It’s because they either can’t trust everyone that comes down that road, they’re hiding something, or they just don’t like letting everyone in on their life. Often it’s because some or all of the above involve an expectation of judgment.

Envision a neighbour coming down to visit you, and as you show him or her your garden or the renovations in your home, they look past the beauty of the flowers or the pleasant decor and only point out what they perceive to be flaws. They proceed to tell you that you planted the wrong kind of flowers, or you should put that piece of furniture there instead of where you placed it. No compliments or respect for your individual taste, only criticism.

I would guarantee that eventually a gate will be put up, or if there already is one, it will be closed to that person’s arrival.

A road implies trust.  You look on a map or see a sign indicating that a certain road is to lead you to a specific destination. When you choose to take that road, you expect to arrive at that place. When you choose to trust someone, you do not expect in return rejection, accusation, or malice.

A road that restricts people in whole or in part is a signal of distrust or broken trust. It’s a road that has too often, for too long, carried backlash or backbiting, criticisms rather than critique, judgment without justice.

As said before, a road runs both ways. You may be travelling on one side of a road, and someone else may be heading in the other direction. Just because they’re not heading in yours, doesn’t necessarily make them wrong.

More often than not people have very good reasons for choosing the road they’re on, reasons based on information we know little or nothing about.