OPINION – I live on a dirt road.
It is a service access road for the National Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management that is frequented by the general public. People come to ride horses, hike, hunt, and to engage in all other manner of outdoor endeavors.
(In fact, I think a few marijuana growers were using it a bit until the Drug Task Force took down a few of their set-ups but that’s a topic for another day.)
A year or so back, I had a near collision in my truck with a four-wheeler carrying a couple of teenagers who came around a corner so fast I had to swerve to avoid barreling into them.
I got out to talk to them and told them that despite it being a road open for public use with no posted speed limit, etiquette might be considered. They could have hurt someone or been hurt themselves.
The teens were none too eager to tell me to stick it where the sun did not shine so I responded in kind; my manner convinced them to see my point of view a little more clearly.
They said, “Come on man, you’re telling us you were not a kid once who did stupid things?”
I replied that I surely was but that I was not angry with them for being stupid kids – I was angry with them for causing me to realize that I had become my father, telling kids to be mindful of their actions.
The accident this week involving teens and an innocent, and now dead, motorist is sadly not uncommon.
Neither is the hard lined banter on both sides of the argument calling for either retribution or forgiveness.
I am staying out of the judgment part of it for now in honor of the deceased, for one, and for the curious observation I have only now come full circle to understand.
You see, we all eventually become our parents in one fashion or another and find ourselves laden with experience that only time on the water can teach; experience we wish we could impart to our youth for the love of them and simultaneously out of fear for their well being.
This dilemma becomes painfully tangible in a situation like the one we have been faced with as a community this week, where the results of the decisions of a youth acting with some measure of abandon perhaps enter the adult world in an immeasurably devastating and irreversible way.
No one in this scenario will escape lifelong consequences.
For myself, the question is less about what the consequences should be and with what level of impunity they are to be exacted, but rather, how do we impart to our youth that healthy reverence for life and caution that, if present, might have prevented this tragedy?
This is a discussion that has begun in my house on the heels of this tragedy. I raise three sons and possess enough creative visualization to imagine them in a similar scenario. How can I head this off? Or can I at all?
It is worth pondering for sure.
One more thing.
May I just say how impressed I am by this community’s ability and willingness to come together when things like this happen. My faith in humanity is somewhat restored when I see measures of grace tempering justice.
See you out there.
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