The Right of Way…

A quiz before the lesson

Traffic quiz here:  Imagine you are driving your car along a medium sized street. A pedestrian steps out into the crosswalk ahead of you.  Question:  Who has the “right of way”?  Answer: The pedestrian.

Now lets look at a variation:  You are crossing a medium size street.  You step out in the crosswalk and look up the road and see a car turning the corner and coming towards you.  Question:  Who has the “right of way”?  Answer: It doesn’t matter.

The situation are exactly the same – how can they have two different answers?  Here’s why.  In one situation you are in a car.  In the other you are a pedestrian.  In a collision between a car and a pedestrian the effects are – to say the least – unequal.

Laws and lines drawn on the road are different than flesh and metal.  Those who forget that are likely to win moral victories – and have the physical disabilities to show for it.

Life teaches us shortcuts

Life is so complex that we tend to develop shortcuts to help us cope.  We usually figure out these shortcuts through experience or reasoning. These may be things like “Lock your car doors” – or – “stay off DC roads during the first snowfall of the year” (since everyone forgets anything they ever learned over the Summer.)  But we need to recognize that there is a difference between shortcuts we learn through experience, and those we are simply told.

A recent example is the new that Viagra causes hearing loss.  While the news is fertile ground for puns – it shouldn’t be hard to think of a few – it brings up an important point.  People blindly believe that the FDA works perfectly, or that some external agency will take care of our safety, or that laws are better than common sense – is making a big mistake.

For those who haven’t discovered this lesson, it is a tragedy.  For those who ignore their common sense, who accept intellectual laziness, who use retorts like  “you can’t NOT believe everything” and “What?!  Am I supposed to just stay in the house?” – they get what they deserve and have no one to blame but themselves for the consequences.

We use the car versus pedestrian example because it clearly illustrates our problem.  We find problems with lesser consequences every day.  But you should take the time to think before you cross the road or pop that new miracle drug.  Ask yourself – words and assurances aside – would it be a good idea?  You should take a moment a figure that out.