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Safety and Order

Πissor began:
Emmar, think of a situation where you have been
tasked to build a road network for a new city under
construction. Forget about your engineering school training
and assume for a second you are pondering how to properly
design this network of roads, so it is effective and safe.
In your confusion, you visit your mother who you have not
seen in 2 years. While over at mum’s she notices you have
something weighing heavily on your mind.
She probes as expected of any good mother.
You are hesitant to tell her because you are thinking she is
not in the position to help you with your engineering
You continue to think hard and deep regarding how you are
going to achieve the stipulations of your project. You
understand perfectly the magnitude of the challenge that lies
ahead of you.
Roads are different from any other kind of engineering
projects. Almost all other works of engineering are designed
for static uses.
Roads are different.
They are designed to be fluid and to be used by fast moving
vehicles. The design and construction of a road must be done
right otherwise chaos through accidents and fatalities will
occur often.
A wrong design will destroy the very thing the road is meant
to establish:
Safe and orderly movement of the people it was designed
Failure to get it right will create pain and suffering for many
who make the unfortunate mistake of getting on that thing
you put together.
The more you think about it the more perplexed you become.
This project which excited you when you first receive it has
suddenly turned into an albatross hanging around your neck
as you ponder the magnitude of your responsibility.
Your mother continues to probe you until you grow weary,
so you tell her your professional troubles.
She smiles and does not utter a word.
Later that day during dinner, she begins to speak.
She enquires about the design requirements of your road
You answer her.
You explain to her the most important considerations:
1. The roads must be safe in order to prevent
unnecessary accidents and deaths.
2. They must be designed to be convenient and free
flowing to minimize traffic jams.
She looks at you with a gentle smile and says: I cannot
believe you are overthinking something so simple.
You look at her in amazement and wonder, “simple? What
do you mean by so simple? Do you understand what is at
stake here? Do you even understand the safety implications
and the potential for chaos if I get this wrong?”
She continues to look at you and then she continues;
I do not have any engineering background but if you
ask me how to design roads for vehicles to move safely
without chaos, I can tell you how to do it.
I can simplify it for you right now son, for I can visualize in
my mind how such a feat might easily be accomplished.
Once I explain to you, it is up to you to use your engineering
training to translate what I tell you into technical terms.
First and foremost, your roads cannot have equal
When you have any two of your roads crossing at any given
point, you must assign greater prominence to one of them.
If you assign equal prominence to both, there will be
inevitable chaos for the vehicles which ply those roads will
crush perpetually and persistently at that intersection.
You must assign greater prominence to one of the roads so
that the vehicles which ply that road always have the right of
way when they arrive at the spot where the other road meets.
The vehicles on the other road must wait, for they ply a less
prominent road.
They must wait until the vehicles on the more prominent
road have safely passed the intersection before the vehicles
on the less prominent road can cross.
It does not matter if the vehicle on the less prominent road
gets to the intersection first.
Even if the vehicle on the less prominent road is closer to the
intersection where the two roads meet and yet going through
the intersection risks a collision with the vehicle plying the
road assigned greater prominence, the vehicle which is
closer to the intersection must wait for the one further away
from the intersection but which travels on the road assigned
greater prominence to safely cross that intersection.
The vehicle on the prominent road even though further from
the intersection, must cross first and do so with any other
vehicles which are immediately behind them.
They must all cross safely before the vehicle which got there
first is given the opportunity to cross the same intersection.
That is one way to avoid chaos and ensure the safety of those
who ply the roads you are about to design and build.
Why would it prevent chaos?
It would because only the roads are assigned the superior and
inferior tag, not the vehicles or the people who drive those
Just as a child patiently awaits their turn to become an adult
and enjoy the things that only adults have access to, so the
drivers of those vehicles which ply the road assigned lesser
prominence will be patient with the understanding that if
they find themselves on the more prominent road, they will
be accorded the same courtesy they are required to accord
other vehicles when they are on the less prominent road.
Alternately, if your sense of fairness kicks against the idea
of one road perpetually being subservient to another, you
could look into putting some kind of controls or signals at
the points where your roads meet.
The signals you put at these points should be setup so that
they control who has the right of way at any given time.
Doing so will alternate prominence and subservience to the
roads that intersect at that point. Your control or signal
should never assign simultaneously, the right of way to
vehicles heading to the same spot otherwise they will collide
and create chaos.
It is however ok for you to assign equal prominence and
simultaneous right of way to vehicles heading towards the
same intersection from different roads as long as they are not
headed in the same direction and there is no danger of the
vehicles colliding with each other.
If you decide to use such a signal to ensure the safety and
orderliness on the roads you design, there again you must
understand that there would be times when a vehicle which
gets to the intersection first would be stopped by your signal.
That vehicle would be made to wait while another vehicle
much further away on the other road would be given access
to cross that very intersection before the vehicle which got
there first.
Whether you choose my first suggestion of irrevocably
assigning greater prominence to one road over another or
you choose to alternate prominence through the use of
signals, you will be able to achieve orderliness and safety but
what you will not achieve is perfect fairness.
For there will always arise a situation where some must wait
for those who came after them to bypass and continue on
their journey before those who got there first are given the
same access.
I know your most important considerations as you design
your roads are safety and order. If you make all roads equal
and provide all of them with simultaneous rights of way at
any given time, you will defeat the very thing you seek to
Chaos will be inevitable in that situation.
Instead, find a way through your design, to provide all users
of your road a pathway to priority and prominence, while
understanding that simultaneous dominance and subjugation
will be the natural order of the roads on which they travel.
This understanding will obviate the need for anyone to
regard noncompliance of your rules, the rules you set to
govern your road network as the only path available to them
in achieving that which they seek; which is get to their
destination in a timely and orderly manner.
People will revolt when they find no clear path to their
destination. They are more likely to be compliant and follow
your rules even if those rules are not immediately beneficial
to them as long as those rules serve to allow everyone a
pathway to their destination, wherever that destination might
Therefore son, another consideration you must bear in mind
as you design and build your roads is to allow vehicles which
might find themselves traveling behind a slower vehicle, the
unobstructed opportunity to pass the slower vehicle that is
Each vehicle plying your roads will move at their own pace.
As is the natural order of all things in this world, no vehicle
will lag throughout its journey to whatever the destination is
that it journeys, neither will any vehicle stay ahead of all
other vehicles during the course of its journey.
All vehicles from the time they set off from their base
towards their destination, will find themselves lagging,
leading or in between other vehicles. It is a long road.
Many things will happen along the way. They must all
share the same road that you design even though they move
at their own pace and journey to different destinations.
Let not the vehicle which finds itself at the front of the line
forever get in the way or prevent the vehicles behind from
bypassing, if the vehicles behind desire to move at a faster
Wherever possible, provide the vehicles behind, a lane that
will permit them to pass the slower leading vehicle. If you
cannot provide the avenue of an extra lane due to space
considerations, please understand that you must provide the
extra lane as soon as space allows you to do so.
Failure to provide the avenue of an extra lane to facilitate the
by-passing of slower leading vehicles by faster moving
vehicles from behind, will breed chaos, compromise safety,
and defeat the orderliness which you desire to achieve in the
roads you create.
Son, I hope you understand that the lives of many people will
be at stake on the roads you create.
People will get to know themselves in ways they probably
never did. Five attributes, call them emotion discovery if you
choose, will be forged on the roads you create.
The people who excel rather than unravel in these five
attributes I am about to talk to you about will find themselves
in a much better place and enjoy life in a much broader
perspective than what you might imagine.
The first attribute that will be forged on your roads is Self-
awareness. The drivers who use the roads you are about to
design will become more conscious of themselves and the
things which upset them.
When a driver finds himself or herself at an intersection and
yet have to wait for another vehicle on the other road to come
from a mile away and cross that same intersection while the
signal you created to maintain order and safety makes them
wait, the first driver will become aware of their own feelings.
The first driver will suddenly become aware of what it feels
like when someone comes from behind to take from them
that which was within their grasp.
When a driver is hard pressed for time and must get to their
destination within a certain time or risk missing an important
deadline; when that driver finds herself on a stretch of road
where you do not provide an avenue for faster vehicles to
bypass slower leading vehicles, the driver who is hard
pressed for time will surely become aware of what happens
to them when they feel stuck and helpless in a situation.
There will be times when drivers consciously decide to
disregard the rules you have set in place for your roads.
These errant drivers who on their own volition, decide not to
follow the rules will create dangerous situations not just for
themselves, but all other drivers who share the same road.
When a driver operates dangerously and cuts off other
drivers, the driver who is the victim of the dangerous
circumstances created by the recalcitrant driver will
suddenly become aware of what happens to them
emotionally when others do not follow the rules and create
unnecessary inconvenience for them as a result of the bad
decisions of the undisciplined party.
As the drivers who use your roads become self-aware, they
must learn to Self-regulate themselves. Can you imagine
what will happen if a faster vehicle decides to pass the slower
vehicles ahead even though there is no avenue provided to
do so?
What will happen if a driver gets to an intersection and is
required to wait, but insists on going through the intersection
before any other vehicle just because the first vehicle arrived
at that intersection prior to all the others?
If traveling a particular road makes a driver upset due to
circumstances which more often than not repeat themselves,
circumstances such as unnecessary traffic jams, the driver of
that vehicle must learn to use alternate routes to avoid
putting themselves through the unpleasant situations.
Being aware of things which upset them and likely to ignite
out-of-character behavior is essential, but the ability to
regulate behavior and all other things necessary to eliminate
or at the very least mitigate those unpleasant things is critical
to those who will use your roads.
Empathy will be forged on the roads which you build.
There will be times when vehicles with the right of way must
wait because another vehicle carrying a sick, infirm or
injured person needs to get to a medical facility in a timely
Interpersonal skills will be on display on the roads you
create. You will see the way people react when others upset
them on the road. Hard lessons will be learned by many.
A driver who disrespects another, only to get to their
destination and find out the driver who was disrespected just
pulled up as well and happens to be the same person who
invited the disrespectful driver for a job interview. That is
when the disrespectful driver suddenly wishes they listened
to their mother when she told them in their youth to be nice
to strangers.
You will see how drivers treat other drivers.
You will see drivers who show great courtesy and respect for
other drivers.
Drivers who follow the rules as you have set, and who even
go the extra mile to do more than just follow your rules.
Such drivers will do everything within their power to avert
situations which might result in danger to themselves or
others, even if the rules you have set permits them the right
of way.
If these drivers have the right of way based on the rules you
have set, and yet the insistence on that right of way based on
the letter of your rules might lead to a dangerous situation
for themselves or others, they will back off in the interest of
safety rather than insist on their right.
Such users will typically not litter the roads for they respect
not only themselves, but others, so much so that they will not
knowingly do anything to make others uncomfortable.
Finally, your roads will forge Motivation in those who ply
them. Users will be motivated to find the best route to their
destinations. These drivers must motivate themselves first,
and then they must learn to motivate others to use the roads
consistently with the rules you have set.
By following the rules themselves, these drivers will
mitigate the opportunity for chaos.
By themselves following the rules and promoting
orderliness, other users of the road will be more inclined to
do the same and follow the rules. Therefore, a vehicle which
is at the front of the road and yet finds itself unable to move
fast enough in a stretch where there is no extra lane for the
vehicles behind to pass, the slower vehicle in the front must
learn to pull to the side and let the faster vehicles get by from
Doing so will diminish the stirring of a negative kind of
motivation in the drivers of the lagging vehicles.
Motivation which might lead the vehicles in the back to
flout the rules with the view of doing the necessary to give
themselves a chance to address being stuck perpetually
behind the slow vehicle which is ahead of them and which
is holding them back.
After you have designed your roads and put in place a
workable system to prevent chaos and promote safety, there
are some matters that will arise which I want to touch on
These matters are not intrinsic to your work and what is
within your control. The only reason I bring this up is to open
your eyes hopefully to understand one thing:
The purpose of your road is to provide a safe passage for
drivers to maneuver their vehicles safely from one point of
origin to another point. A destination.
Vehicles are going to join and exit your network of roads at
different times. Same road, but each vehicle has a different
path they must travel.
Some will travel longer than others.
Some will join the road very briefly and quickly exit.
Others will travel for what seems like eternity.
To each their own destination.
That is the beauty of what you are about to build; provide an
avenue for people to get to their destinations.
As long as the users of your road get to their destination alive
and well, your mission is accomplished.
Now, an interesting thing that will happen on your roads;
some cars will break down and will have to rely on a tow
truck to get them to their destination. No one wants to have
to rely on a tow truck but there again, if a tow truck is how
someone gets to their destination, so be it.
They arrived home and that is what matters.
Some people will not have access to tow trucks when they
experience vehicular break downs.
Such people will call friends or family to help get them to
their destination.
As long as it works out and they get to where they need to
go; that is all that matters.
Some people will experience minor accidents. The vehicles
they drive will experience damage, part of their vehicles may
hang about loosely, the vehicle may develop a crackling
sound which is very uncomfortable, but if the driver
manages to get to their destination, that is all that matters.
Destruction of the vehicle is not destruction of the driver.
Some drivers will get home sooner than they anticipated.
Others will take longer to get to their destination than they
originally anticipated.
Sometimes drivers will get lost and lose their bearings.
Home is home as long as the drivers eventually get there.
Never mind the time it took for them to get there.
Rejoice when you get there.
Expectedly or unexpectedly.
There will be times when vehicles need to veer off the road
to recharge.
This is where fuel station operators come into the picture.
The job of the fuel station operator is to help the drivers of
the vehicles to get to their destination in one piece, wherever
that destination might be.
All drivers will be safe once they get home.
This is where it gets interesting:
Two cars veer off the road to recharge.
The two cars look exactly the same.
They are almost indistinguishable.
They have the same color, same shape, same design.
Everything about them looks the same except the fuel
needed to keep their engines running.
One vehicle is designed to consume petrol.
The other one is designed to consume diesel.
It is none of your business.
It is a befuddling sight I must admit, but any questions you
have regarding the unusual spectacle need to be directed to
the engineer who built the cars.
Only the engineer knows what went through their mind
when they decided to build similar cars with different fuel
If you are the fuel station owner, your job is to provide the
fuel the cars need so they might get to their destinations in
one piece.
Your job is not to arrogate unto yourself the authority to
determine what fuel the vehicles need. If you want to provide
only one kind of fuel, fine.
End it there. It is your prerogative to do so.
Do not create problems for those whose vehicles are not
designed to consume the fuel you offer. Doing so is
wickedness, for you hamper the safe passage of the very
people you established your business to help.
In matters like that, you do yourself a great disservice by
bothering the drivers of the vehicles. If you cannot help them
fill their tanks and get to their destination, please do not get
in the way.
For if you insist that both cars consume petrol because of
their likeness, or you insist both consume diesel because that
is what you expect to see, you err greatly.
Get out of the fuel business if you cannot help motorists get
to their destinations in one piece.
I know not one fuel station owner who ever designed a road;
why act as though you know where all roads lead?
You know not where they are headed and where home is for
those traveling, so stop getting in their way.
You have no clue why they left home in the first place and
why they journey on the road so do not act as one who knows
all things for you know not a thing!
LOVE, by serving them and show courtesy and your work is
Just as the work of a fuel service owner is important, it is just
as crucial to understand many other professions work in the
service of those who ply the road.
Times will arise when fire service personnel will be required
to travel the road to take care of an emergency. In times like
that, do not point fingers at the fire service for running red
lights or traveling faster than the speed limit of the road
Shut up.
You do not work in the fire service.
Stop reminding everyone regarding the speed limits and stop
Concentrate on following the letter of the rules yourself.
Leave others alone.
Nurses, teachers, politicians, businesswomen and men, all
manner of people will use the road.
Let not the nurse point fingers at the doctors, let not the
doctors point fingers at the teachers. Let the teachers not
point fingers at the businesspeople.
To each, their own responsibility and tactics.
Just because you have not been educated or trained to
understand another’s profession; just because you are not
trained to skillfully use a surgical knife to do good instead of
harm; just because you have not been granted the training to
walk into fire and walk out unscathed does not mean you
throw stones at those to whom that training and abilities have
been granted.
Do that which your skill and training permit you to do and
keep quiet on matters on which you only have a cursory
understanding if any at all so that all may get home safe at
the end of a hard day’s work.
For if the doctor stops performing surgery and instead is
worried about how the businesswoman is conducting her
business; if the teacher stops teaching and instead worries
about how the nurse is attending to the sick; if the driver
takes their eyes off the road and instead gets fixated by the
gardener on the side of the road, chaos will be inevitable.
No one gets home safely.
Many have made the error of thinking they are protecting
safety and order by pursuing and enforcing meaningless
traditions only to propagate chaos in that which they seek to
The only people that should be taken off the road are those
under the influence of intoxicants; drunk and unfit drivers;
those who blatantly disregard safety and order by over
speeding, as well as those who run through intersections for
no justifiable reason when they are required to stop.
Such drivers have no business driving on the road for they
endanger not only themselves, but all others who share the
road with them.
That is it.
Choice of vehicle or type of fuel should never be a reason to
eliminate or prevent a driver from getting to their
It is ok to specify lanes for types of vehicles depending on
capacity and speed requirements as long as those
specifications do not hamper but instead serve to help
facilitate all vehicles to get home.
May your roads not only make those who use them safe, but
may they teach Self-awareness, Self-regulation, Empathy,
Interpersonal Skills and Motivation to all who use them.
And with that, your mother, the woman with no engineering
background, gives you her two cents on how to proceed with
your deep engineering dilemma.
The dilemma which has plagued you for many days.
“What do you tell her after she concludes? What are your
thoughts Emmar?”
The man with PI inscribed on his hands asked me.
“Of course I will thank her profusely. I will, on my own
accord, award her an engineering degree.” I continued
jokingly. “I am yet to come across a professor who broke it
down so cogently, so I will thank her and let her know how
impressed I am with her deep insight on the matter,” I added.
“What about apologizing to her for discounting and taking
her wisdom for granted, and refusing to listen to her advice
anytime she has freely offered it?” Πissor asked.
I could sense he was up to some mischief based on the smirk
on his face, so I just stared at him and decided not to utter a
“Do you have a bathroom I can use for a minute?” He
“The door on your right is the bathroom. Please help
yourself,” I replied while pointing to the door.
As he made his way through the door to use the restroom,
my alarm went off and I woke up.
It was 6 am.