Every working day I usually have a 30-minute walk from my workplace to my wife’s office where our car is parked. I pass through a busy intersection under a criss-crossing elevated highway. I saw something today that made me think of the paradox that asks “What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?”

Let me try to describe the scenario to set it up.

Us pedestrians were waiting to cross the street on the bottom part of a Y-intersection. I was already in the center island and just waiting for the pedestrian green light to come on so we can cross to the other side of the street. Since it was rush hour there were still about 3 waves of cars crossing the intersection and needs to pass in front of us. However the woman in front of the group of pedestrians already started crossing when the light turned and her companion had to restrain her before she gets hit by an oncoming vehicle. The woman was annoyed at her companion and started explaining her actions to her companion while furiously pointing at the green light. The woman’s reasoning based on the concept of “right of way” is the “Unstoppable force”.

I didn’t pay attention to the ensuing discussion as I hurriedly crossed the street less I get stuck in the middle of the island when the light turns after 30 seconds. What I saw is enough for me to identify the “Immovable Object” which should have been the common sense that a vehicle traveling at around 30kph is still enough to cause damage to any human being much less somebody with a diminutive frame like this angry woman.

The conflict of being right vs the risk of getting injured is, at least for me, a perfect example of a paradox. Was the woman correct in supposedly standing her ground? Would she have felt vindicated if she got bumped by a car while crossing on a pedestrian walk during a green light even if she could have avoided it by letting the cars pass and be delayed for a few seconds? Or should the common sense of avoiding injury be enough to overcome this “right” on each and everytime conflicts like this occur?

I have no answer as I dont think there is a clear cut answer. If it helps I also remembered watching a Superman animated film wherein a a variation of the question was asked by the UltraSphinx in exchange for Lois Lane’s life. I’ll leave the answer for the readers to find out but to assist I will embed a youtube video to start at 1:29 where the question is being asked.

If for some reason youtube cannot be accessed or the video has been taken down then readers can also find the answer given here: http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Ultrasphinx_(All-Star_Superman)

ciao!