Adaptive cruise control slows down and speeds up automatically to keep pace with the car in front of you. When using it, you set a maximum speed and a radar sensor on your car locks onto the car in front of you and instructs your car to stay a safe distance back. Adaptive cruise control was considered “extreme tech” as recently as 2013. By 2019 it was common and “cheap” enough to be almost standard on economy cars. It’s a wonderful device for life on the highway, and a great metaphor transferrable to other areas of life.
It’s sometimes seen on Youtube videos of foot races run by students in special education classes. If one classmate trips, others adapt their speed, stopping to raise the fallen friend so all finish together. More of us could use adaptive control when tasked with committee or group work in our jobs, associations and churches. People with great ambitions for advancement might look at the debris they leave in their wake: broken friendships; failed marriages; soured parent/child relationships and lack of neighborly feeling because moving “up” has often meant relocating “away” before getting to know the folks across the street or next door. .
The system works through a radar sensor that controls how close one car gets to the one in front. Would that the certificate of ordination received by clergy came with a distance monitor. The same goes for the kinds of certifications granted to child care providers, youth counselors and prison workers.
Adaptive conversation control might help people who want to share religious testimonies. Whether one is the customer or the barber, without an early agreement on openness to hearing another’s religious testimony, conversion is unlikely. The simple question, “I’d like to talk about my faith. Would you care to listen?” is like radar that sets the distance between cars. Two parties holding similar faith might find the conversation. If their faiths are oppositional, a poor haircut or transfer of business could result. If the question is answered negatively, the talk could turn to the Cubs, the Bears, the Bulls, but not the Patriots.
Given enough time to think, we could come up with LOTS of places in life where a “adaptive cruise control” could be beneficial. It might be a field in which people could develop and market new APPs for smartphones.
David Alexander resides in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.