The measure of someone’s intelligence in our society is IQ. According to some colleges, if you have a high enough IQ, the red carpet will be rolled out in your honor. I’d like to share a story with you that made me rethink society’s view of IQ as the gold standard of an individual’s ability. On a Friday afternoon, about 4:45pm, I was heading out of Houston with my granddaughter Chiara to Matagorda for a fun filled weekend. By the time I passed Pearland on Hwy. 288 it was about 5:45pm. I was in heavy traffic so I was paying close attention to the cars around me. About one hundred yards ahead of me were two late model trucks parked on the right shoulder of the road. I didn’t see a police officer writing a ticket but I still slowed down. What I saw next left me traumatized for weeks. The man standing next to the second truck was violently punching the man inside through the window. At one point the door of the second truck opened and a man jumped out; the two began rolling around beating each other up in the first two lanes of Hwy. 288. My granddaughter and I were in the third lane parallel with them while the other vehicles behind me came to a complete stop. Time stood still for those few seconds as I watched in horror. Thankfully, my granddaughter was in the back seat reading her book clueless to what was going on outside of our vehicle. I hesitated to excellerate, frightened I might run over them. I crept by and eventually passed them. When I looked in the rearview mirror, I saw a guy shouting at them from his vehicle behind me. Another driver was on a cell phone, I’m guessing to call 911. The second time I looked back both men involved in the fight were standing up. I continued driving with tears running down my face trying to make sense of something my mind was unable to process.
The second part of the story speaks volumes as well. Both men were dressed in nice jeans and starched white shirts, both appearing professional, with the exception of their insane behavior. Clearly this was road rage at it’s finest. Later I realized if there had been weapons involved, someone might not have walked away. Sadly, there was no caution light warning me of trouble up ahead or a police presence to put a stop to what I just witnessed. Psychologically, everyone in the surrounding vehicles was scarred by what happened at this active crime scene on Hwy. 288. I watched the news later that evening but there was nothing on the matter.
It was a wakeup call for me. A few days after the incident, I picked up a book called “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman. The byline of the book was ‘The Groundbreaking Book that Redefines What It Means To Be Smart.’ In essence, the author speaks about the inability of our emotional intelligence to catch up with the technilogical advances in our world today. We find ourselves bombarded by high stress and high anxiety scenarios that some of us aren’t equipped to handle. Goleman relates in his book: “From the most primitive root, the brainstem, emerged the emotional centers….the fact that the thinking brain grew from the emotional (brain) reveals much about the relationship of thought to feeling; there was an emotional brain long before there was a rational one.” Goleman’s book was written over twenty years ago.
It’s time, as civilized adults, to reconsider the importance of emotional intelligence and it’s long-term effects on our society. By sharing this story with you today, my intention is to open a dialog with school districts to incorporate the study of emotional intelligence with IQ as early as elementary school, junior high, high school and college. Some schools have done so with positive results. It won’t change society’s current dilemma, but it will assist in my granddaughter’s generation to come. Life is too short, be nice to one another.
Originally published in the Bay City Tribune on May 1, 2016.