Thursday, June 16, 2016

We are all the "Alligator Parents"

Last night on the way to my parents' house for dinner, I zoned out and ran a red light. I drive past this intersection at least twice a day every single day of my life. I knew there was a light there. But I zoned out and ran the light and almost hit a woman in a Toyota Camry. It was a mistake that could have been deadly.

I didn't hit anyone thankfully, but I almost did. And almost, when dealing with harming another human being in any way, is still too close for comfort. I spent the rest of the night feeling horrible. I can't imagine how scared the woman in the Camry must have been. I am so glad she was paying attention and that she swerved out of the way, even though she shouldn't have been in that position in the first place. What if a child were in that car? She was no doubt someone's daughter, friend, or mother. I pictured the worst case scenarios all night long.

I pictured the comments that would come from readers on the article that the local news would inevitably publish. I bet she was texting (I wasn't) or I bet she fell asleep at the wheel (I didn't.) We all want there to be reasons but accidents happen.

I wish I could apologize to her.

It got me thinking about mistakes, and how these things unify us as humans. We all make them. Most of them don't make the news. Most of them don't cause a loss of life. Most of the time, we are the only ones who know about them at all.

But then there's the mom of the boy who fell in the Gorilla enclosure. Or the parents of the child who was eaten by an alligator earlier this week. I almost joined their ranks of infamous-mistake-makers that get hateful comments on the internet-- blaming them and shaming them in their moments of horror and grief. It is not okay.

Let's be a little kinder to each other. People make mistakes and not all mistakes require judgment. It helps us make sense of tragedy, but sometimes tragedy just doesn't make sense. We like to think we're exempt from the big ones, the ones that ruin lives. But we aren't.

So how 'bout we spend less time being critics on these high-profile news stories and just admit that we don't have all the answers and that we are all capable of being at the center of the criticism.

And then let's thank whoever-the-hell you think lives in the sky that no one writes news stories about our mistakes.

That would suck pretty hard.