I was at a car park at lunchtime. What was unusual about that was that this car park had no lines drawn on the pavement. What I noticed was that this situation did not result in a collapse of order and sheer anarchy. Instead, all of the cars were parked at right angles to the kerb. The only difference was that the cars were slightly further apart.
Think about that for a moment. Compare and contrast that with, say, a UK supermarket, where the lines are drawn so close together that if you have the misfortune to park between two SUVs, you can’t get out of your car at all. In fact, you can, for sport, watch people as they squeeze in and out of their vehicles, denting each other’s doors and sleek car fuselages in the process. So many cars are marked or dented from car park squeezes. That’s why, when there are no lines drawn, people just park slightly further apart.
Who drew the lines? Well the lines were drawn by the owner of the car park, whose primary interest is in cramming as many vehicles onto his precious commercial property as he can, to maximise the foot fall in his store. He doesn’t care about your inconvenience, bruises or the damage to your expensive property.
So if we are inconvenienced, hurt and our property damaged in the process, why do we stick between the lines? We do it because we are told to, by arbitrary authority and because we don’t question the motives of these people in telling us to stay between the lines and in setting the distance between the lines in the first place. We’re fooling ourselves. Disorder will not break out.
In art, staying between the lines is called “colouring in”. In life, as in art, maybe we should be a little quicker to question why we stay between the lines. Maybe it would be better if sometimes we didn’t.