It happens all the time. All over the world. People shuffle off this mortal coil. I walked by a television this morning at work and noticed the bright, age-free-but-not-old, newswoman clone that hosts so many of the daytime news programs. She sported a bright, beautiful smile for us average folks out here. However, the news crawl below her read "Over 600 people have died in India in floods..."
Something is wrong here. Have we become so jaded and impervious to death in large numbers that reports like that have no impact on us? Can we no longer intellectually process the impact these mass tragedies have? It's no wonder that there are people who don't believe the Holocaust occured. Who can imagine 10 million people murdered?
A tragedy occurred in our town this past week. A 19 year old girl was killed in a car accident in a kind of freakish way. She was sitting in the back seat behind the driver. He lost control of the car on a wet, country road and it skidded sideways into a utility pole. The other three people in the car exited under their own power. The girl, whose fate was decided by the seat she chose in the car earlier that night, was mortally injured.
This kind of event attracts everyone's attention, especially parents with teenagers. And even more especially when the girl is a friend of your daughter's.
Words can't express the feelings I went through all at once. Not that any of these events ever make any sense, this one seems to make even less sense and more random than usual.. She was sitting in the backseat. There were four passengers. Three exited the car under their own power. She was hopelessly injured and she only survived for a short time. It was 3 a.m. on a dark back road when the car spun out of control, the rear door striking a utility pole. The driver is only 20 years old and it's not clear whether he had been drinking or not, although the police did charge him. And it's only safe to say that he lost control of the car. If tox screens show he had any alcohol in his system at all, because he was underage, he will serve time in jail. This makes this tragedy even more tragic -- if that's the case.
Of course the collateral damage from the accident is immeasurable. The parents of the victim and the driver now find their lives changed in previously unimaginable ways.
As for myself, I am just tired trying to figure out why these things happen, and what parents can do to help prevent them. Having raised four people through a teenage years, we have survived relatively unscathed. But we were just lucky. The facts are that children must grow into adults and there are times when they do things that are unsafe, unwise and sometimes downright stupid. Some of the same things we did growing up. I think, and there are plenty of modern parents who disagree with me, that parents should never condone underage "safe" drinking. In my little mind, our late teens are already in jeopardy enough by allowing them to drive at 16 and 17. Can't we wait until 21 to add drinking -- another risk factor -- into the mix?
Back to my original point of our anesthetic view of the death in large numbers -- I think that we may be just employing a self defense mechanism to shield the true nature of such a large number of lives lost in tragedy. The horror of those events can only be truly appreciated by examining each life lost one at a time. It's only then we can even begin to imagine the weight of the loss.
And so it goes...peace, out.