Thinking vs. Feeling

Recently, a woman was cited for driving her car in the HOV lane of a freeway in Arizona. In case you don’t know what “HOV” means, it stands for “High Occupancy Vehicle”. Many states reserve one lane for vehicles that contain more than one passenger, allowing them to bypass the heavy traffic in the other lanes during rush hour.

The woman challenged the ticket because she was pregnant. She argued that there were actually two passengers in her vehicle, not just one. She felt that she and her unborn child had the right to travel in the restricted lane. Many people agreed with her.

This case immediately brought attention to the debate over when life begins, and whether a fetus is a person. Those who were inclined to believe that life begins at inception felt that she was right, while those who believe that a fetus is not a
human being until birth felt that she was wrong.


The purpose of the HOV lanes is to reduce the number of cars on the roadways. Whether a fetus is or is not a person does not alter the fact that the mother and her unborn child were incapable of traveling in separate vehicles! That they were traveling together would be inevitable, wouldn’t it? How does that reduce traffic?

The emotional responses involved the very emotional issue of when life begins, but that is irrelevant to this case! The rational response would require an understanding of the real issue. The privilege of driving in the HOV lane is reserved for those who carpool, thus reducing the heavy traffic burden that commuters face each day. This woman was not helping to reduce traffic flow. The court upheld the citation and she was required to pay the fine. Some people still feel that she was treated unjustly. Others think that justice has prevailed.

Our first impressions are almost always based on emotional responses. We feel before we take the time to think. If someone asked you, “Isn’t this the best shade of green you have ever seen?” you would be expected to respond promptly with a yes or a no, and your answer would depend upon your first impression of what is right in front of you. You have probably seen many shades of green in your lifetime, but there wouldn’t be time to recall your impressions of all of them and carefully weigh your options. So, you may feel that this shade is nice, unless you are instantly repulsed by it. If you could take the time to think about it, your answer might be different.

We are bombarded with questions every day that require quick answers. We respond with our first impressions, which are sometimes referred to as our “gut” feelings. That is a good term for it because, if you remember anything about human anatomy, our “guts” are not located anywhere near our “brains”. We follow our “gut” when we don’t have time to think!

That’s okay most of the time, since most of the decisions we are asked to make are not about earth-shattering issues.

But, when you are asked to vote for someone for President of the United States, or U.S. Senator, or even Mayor of your town – someone who will have a great influence on your life and mine – PLEASE take the time to think!

I feel that some people are too emotional to make sound decisions, but since I can’t change other people, I think I’d better get used to it.