It appears that a significant number of states were not in agreement with this action. However, since federal transportation dollars were attached to the legislation it was difficult to ignore. Although states had established speed limits independently in the past, this particular action by the federal government carried quite a penalty if the state refused to follow the Act. It was interesting to note some of the adjustments made by states to correspond to the legislation without completely giving up their independence. I read one article which described how some states simply relaxed enforcement of speed limits—unofficially of course.
As I was reading some of the history surrounding the “gas shortage” of 1973 and pondering the subsequent legislation in 1974, a couple of thoughts immediately came to my attention.
1. What constitutes an emergency? The legislation was entitled, “The Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act.” Furthermore, what does a precedent like this establish for future actions of the federal government to usurp the autonomy of the states in “emergency” situations?
2. Some sources suggest that the actual conservation of fuel was less than half of what had been projected when the speed limit was lowered. Inaccuracy in projections (and even intentional attempts to mislead the people) certainly does not build confidence among the citizens about their elected officials.
Effective leadership is needed in any organization to bring out the best in people. Successful leaders understand the difference between motivation and manipulation and subsequently strive to manage things but lead people. This isn’t just about government leaders; it is about all of us.
Church leadership can fall into some of the same mishaps as secular and government leaders. The consequences can be dire. It is no small matter if failed leadership in the Church prompts people to abandon their faith. The “carrot and stick” approach may accomplish program goals in certain circumstances, but if the methodologies being utilized aren’t leading our congregations to an in-depth conversion experience in the process then what is the point? Are we sincerely creating an atmosphere in which people can profoundly encounter the living God?
“The Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act” of 1974 challenged us to ponder the way we use our natural resources and to make some adjustments. Today, I want to ponder how we are utilizing our spiritual resources and encourage any adjustments if necessary.
1. The speed limit has been raised from the mandatory 55 mph in 1974. Since we are able to go faster again, are we utilizing the time we have saved in our travels to pray more or engage in other acts of service?
2. In 1974 many people grumbled about driving 55 mph but obeyed for fear of receiving a speeding ticket. Do we participate in the life of the Church with grumbling or with joy? Have we been content to just attend liturgical services or have we fully entered into the mystery with our full, conscious, and active participation?
3. Did we simply choose to meet the minimal requirements to receive the sacraments and leave it at that, or have we continued a life-long journey of study and learning to grow in knowledge and understanding of our faith?
4. How are we dispensing the resources of our time, talent, and treasure to build up the kingdom of God?
5. In our day-to-day lives are we motivating people to be their best?
We have begun our journey into the year 2014. May it be a fruitful time in which we grow in wisdom, grace and holiness!