Friday, July 18, 2008

The Age of Innocence

Picture this...

A young girl, twenty years old, leaves a party after a fight with her boyfriend. She is intoxicated. And in her anguished state she foregoes all responsibility to others and takes to the road in her new truck. She takes a corner too hard and blacks out, careening her vehicle up a driveway and into a garage door.

Her engine catches on fire.

The story continues. Obviously shaken by the tumult, the residents inside walk outside to survey the damage where they clearly see the truck and the havoc in their garage. They also spy the young female driver, her face bloodied and smashed by the impact and the beginning of the fire in the engine. Smoke is rising from the engine block and the girl's dog is barking in the passenger seat.

Several moments pass in this incident. The residents retrieve a camera and begin taking pictures of the scene. A neighbor dials 911. Over the course of a few minutes, the residents manage to snap some shots of the fire building in the truck, and finally engulfing the young girl.

No one, through any of it, seems to think it is a good idea to get the girl out of the burning truck. In the end, it is her dog that pulls her free.

Following months of grafts and left with life changing injuries, the girl faces the legal ramifications of her driving under the influence. She is fortunate in that no one was hurt, or worse, because of her actions besides herself.

Those who took no action to come to her aid after the accident are kind enough to send her pictures of her on fire. They send a note and a part of it reads "this is what you get for what you did to our house."

Indeed.

Where is the line here? How can it be possible that we have forgotten the most basic of human virtues? Is not God alone the judge of all men?

Make no mistake. The girl, choosing to drive while intoxicated, certainly bears responsibility for her actions. She could have killed someone and she very nearly killed herself. This sort of irresponsibility is epidemic as evinced by the thousands killed every year because of someone's selfish choices.

Still, how many of us have made similar bad choices? Weren't we just a bit luckier than this young lady? Christ said "He who is without sin, cast the first stone." I think all of us would be laying our stones at our feet.

Much of our society has become too callous and far too fearful of lawsuits and the legal ramifications of lifting a hand to help others in need. We are all too familiar with stories just like the afore mentioned. Recently, cameras in a hospital ward captured a woman writhing about on the floor in her death throes. No one came to her aid. In another shocking instance, a man was hit by a car at an intersection. Passers by gawked at the scene and some even approached the man in the street simply to get a better look. Is this what we are becoming?

Certainly there are heroes. Think of the firefighters racing through the Twin Towers on 911. Keep in mind the policemen who risk their lives daily to uphold the law. And never forget the men and women of the armed forces fighting for our freedoms in far flung regions of the world.But do we have to wear a uniform to be a hero? Praise to the local hero, a concerned neighbor perhaps, who runs into the house fire to save someone he has never even met.

The Masonic Charge is to aid our Brothers and so too those who simply require our help. Masonry asks us to dare to risk our own lives if there is a better chance of us making a difference than simply perishing in the effort. Are these only Masonic virtues? Of course not. Remember the good Samaritan and be one if the occassion calls for it.

We are often so overly concerned with punishing the criminal or seeking revenge that we lose our souls to our anger and our prejudiced personal sense of justice. We forget entirely the pillar of Mercy that the world rests upon. For it is a balance that must be sought between that Justice and that Mercy.

Two pillars Brothers. Two.

I happen to know the young woman from the accident. The courts did not find her remorseful of her drunk driving. Her neighbors surely did not. The girl I know is emotionally withdrawn. She doubts herself now. It is not a lack of remorse on her part that keeps her going. She simply walled up her emotions and turned a blind eye to her mirror. You will find her to be a very fun loving girl. It's a kind of mask perhaps to the pain inside. She works now in a pet and animal clinic and she takes good care of a lot of little puppies.

Everyone is responsible. And sometimes it requires courage to live up to that fact. Am I 'My Brothers Keeper?' Of course I am.

1 comment:

Matthew Siegmann said...

Brother,
Truely what is our society comming to? I don't know what kind of people would not help someone, or perhaps it's just the type of company I keep, but I know for a fact that every one of the fine men and women I call friends wouldn't hesitate for a second to help that young lady out... even if she had caused harm to them or their property.

You mentioned casting stones but you forgot the golden rule:

"Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."

If everyone followed this rule what a beatiful world we'd live in.


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