Compassion and lessons learned

Our local community was shaken up once more this weekend with the tragic accident near Bainbridge which took the life of one local teenager and injured three others.

It is not just the fact that this car accident occurred, but the circumstances surrounding it which have caused consternation. You see, when people learned that the driver and the others involved with the crash may have been consuming alcohol before the early morning crash, they moved quickly from compassion to finger pointing.

To me, this reaction is almost as much of a tragedy as the accident itself. Here we have one life cut short, and the lives of three others (not to mention those of their families, friends and fellow students) which will be irreparably changed because of this event.

Yet instead of showing compassion, people want to place blame wherever they can.

Are there lessons to be learned from this? Of course. Especially as it happened just weeks and months before prom and graduation. It is a horrible reminder of both why people shouldnít supply alcohol to minors and what can happen if someone who has been drinking gets behind the wheel.

Weíre not just talking about teenagers, here of course. Adults are certainly guilty of this as well. There is so much focus on the ďlegal limit,Ē and avoiding that DWI charge, that we lose sight of why this is enforced in the first place. When you drive with your ability impaired by alcohol or other substances, you put your own life and those around you at risk. Thatís what our concern should be; not whether some law enforcement officer is going to pull us over and see if we can walk a straight line.

Iíve heard people criticize the parents of these teens, and I am so bothered by that. Donít you think they are suffering enough?

Iím not sure who provided the alcohol, but they will have to live with the guilt of their actions. That may be far worse than any other punishment they can face. And I do hope this will make others think twice before they do the same.

But there I am, slipping into that same mindset. It is easier sometimes, I think, to dwell on the blame rather than the simple fact that lives have been senselessly, irreparably changed by something that probably took just a fraction of a second to get out of hand.

Something that, if we are honest with ourselves, could happen to any one of us at any time, regardless of whether or not alcohol was involved.

We each make hundreds of decisions, big and small each day. They arenít always the right decisions. And unfortunately, sometimes they bite us. Sometimes they arenít even our own decisions which bite us.

While we learn those lessons, letís not forget that the girl who lost her life had a family, friends and other loved ones. Canít we give them enough respect to mourn her passing and celebrate the time they had with her? The same goes for the others involved in the crash. Donít they deserve time to heal, time to pick up the pieces after this horrible accident?

Even though the driver walked away with minimal injuries compared with the others in the car, think of the emotional scars he will have to live with for the rest of his life. Have compassion.

These are people. Donít reduce them to a cautionary tale.

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