A few years ago, I moved to a new state and was required to redo the driver’s license exam. I wasn’t happy about it but I learned a lot from the process. Read the following excerpt from the 2016 driver’s handbook for California.

How traffic laws help us live better lives

“Right-of-way rules, together with courtesy and common sense, help to promote traffic safety. It is important to respect the right-of-way of others, especially pedestrians, motorcycle riders, and bicycle riders. Never assume other drivers will give you the right-of-way. Yield your right-of-way when it helps to prevent collisions.

Respecting the right-of-way of others is not limited to situations such as yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks, or watching carefully to ensure the right-of-way of bicyclists and motorcyclists. Motorists must respect the right-of-way of others by not violating traffic laws, such as failing to stop at a stop sign or traffic light, speeding, making unsafe lane changes, or illegal turns. Statistics show that right-of-way violations cause a high percentage of injury collisions in California.”

The passage above teaches us 6 lessons that can help us live better and more fulfilled lives.

1. Life is a journey, and we share all the roads of life.

When I reflected on that passage, I realized that life is a journey, much the same way as there are cars on the highways and roads in California. We each have our own individual journey, destination, and calling. Yet, we live on the same planet and share the same resources, just like motorists on the state highways share the roads.

2. Rules help make the journey safer for all of us.

The rules above are excellent rules for life. Courtesy and common sense is something we can all use. Right-of-way rules, which are akin to laws both moral and legal are important for us to follow if we are to travel well and share the road with others effectively on the journey of life.

3. Rules of life must clearly protect the weakest among us from being run over by those who are stronger.

It’s important to show integrity and respect the right of way of others on the journey of life. In the passage above, it says it is important to respect the right-of-way of others especially pedestrians, motorcycle riders, and bicycle riders. These are the weaker ones, the ones that can easily be injured by our mistakes. These are the children, the elderly, the poor and the disenfranchised. We need to make sure that we don’t run over them as we go about our life journeys. Instead, we should pay particular attention and ensure that we respect their rights even when they cannot defend themselves and assert their rights. We need to be their advocates.

In your company, it means protecting the lowest paid staff who also have families to feed. In many companies, when business isn’t working so well, the first people to be laid off are the lowest paid employees who need the cash the most. At the same time, CEOs often get pay raises to the tune of millions. The ones that need the most protection from the economic hardships are abandoned and the CEOs who usually get paid millions of dollars anyway and least need the money get large bonuses! That’s backward.

4.Don’t make assumptions, clarify with questions.

It continues and says, “Never assume other drivers will give you the right-of-way.” That’s so true about life. Even when we are sure that we are right, we must learn to communicate effectively with others so that we don’t destroy our relationships or start conflicts. We have a tendency to make assumptions about people’s thoughts, motives, and intentions. If we simply avoid assuming things, even when it is clear that we are on the right but verify by asking questions and allowing others to express their intentions and thoughts, we will avoid a lot of suffering.

5. We must yield our rights to others to prevent problems.

Even though we have clear rules that are intended to settle matters and decide who is wrong and who is right, in many situations, what is needed to move people forward and avoid conflict is to show grace. A great way to show grace is to yield right-of-way freely when it helps to prevent a conflict. That’s powerful and very useful in daily life. We must surrender our rights to avoid unnecessary conflicts and focus instead on building better relationships.

6. Respecting the rights of others means we must follow the rules even when we don’t see how disobeying them hurts someone else because everything we do affects others, whether positively or negatively.

Paragraph two in the excerpt is also very powerful. On the journey of life, the way to respect the right-of-way of others isn’t limited to situations such as making sure you don’t hurt the weak. We must respect the right-of-way of others by not violating the laws at all because even the things we do in secret have consequences that are visible in public and affect all our fellow human beings. Something as simple as smoking doesn’t only hurt your lungs. If a smoker gets sick, say they have lung cancer, they will miss work. That will make things difficult for their coworkers who may need to work harder to cover for him. It may impact the shareholders of the company who’ve invested their hard-earned money into the company to create jobs for the employees and earn a profit for them to use during their retirement or for other purposes. There will be emotional and psychological trauma on coworkers and family members who have to deal with a loved one that has cancer. The hospitals will need to accommodate you and work to care for you. Those are public resources that may be used for someone else who needs help. This is true even if a person has insurance to cover all their costs. Everything we do impacts people around us. The principle of the butterfly effect is really true.

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