The movie Cars plays regularly around our house. In 10 or 15 minute portions at a time usually, our two year old Winter will watch it before he takes a nap or to calm his anted-pants down on longer driving days.
The movie, and its sequel even, are a few years old now, but kids love talking race cars and so you’ll still find the movies’ hero, Lightning McQueen, plastered across sippy cups and lunch boxes and the toy cars still own their personal aisle at Target.
Normally, I run from such excessive marketing.
But one of the key messages of the first movie is right up my alley. Getting lost off the freeway, the protagonist winds up in a small town off of Route 66 called Radiator Springs. The once vibrant Main Street is now in decay due to the building of the freeway, I-40. Travelers are now in a rush to get somewhere, not concerned with the part where you’re actually going. As the story puts it, before “Cars didn’t drive the road to make great time. They drove on it to have a great time.”
The small town is full of friendly people living a modest life just wishing for a time when travel was about experiencing something beautiful, not ticking off states at 85mph. That’s a message not only fit to instill in my own children, but one every American would do well to respect. What made this nation great has been relegated to kitsch signage in a few roadside restaurants, when it should be the prize held high for anyone lucky enough to be born in such a beautiful land.