A little care…

jan wet dawn 002

The narrow village street is busy with rush hour traffic. The lorry coming towards me on the other side of the road is respecting the speed limit, the impatient driver behind him is not. Without warning, the car pulls out onto my side of the road, overtaking the lorry and coming straight at me. In that scintilla of clarity that happens at these moments, I realise there was nowhere for me to go. I could turn into the path of the lorry…but that is hardly a good choice. I could wrench the wheel to the left and plough into the schoolchildren waiting at the bus stop… and that is no choice at all. Or grit my teeth, hold the wheel, and slam the brakes on, hoping the cars behind me are going slow enough to stop.

I hit the brakes… so does the lorry… and the impatient driver hits the accelerator, raising one obnoxious finger to the world, squeezes through the gap with millimetres to spare, racing off to whatever destination is more important to him than the lives of others.

I am not a timid driver and I don’t scare easily… but this brief incident left me shaking all the way to work. It had been close.

Sadly, it is the kind of scenario that happens every day on our increasingly busy roads. This time, tragedy was averted by the quick reactions of several drivers. It is not always so, and the toll of death and destruction on the roads rises daily. Accidents happen often enough, both on and off the roads, but many are not accidents at all, they are simply the result of heedless or selfish behaviour and, when lives are lost to such causes, it is tantamount to murder.

How would the lorry driver have fared emotionally, as well as legally, had I turned my car beneath his wheels? How would I have lived with my actions had I instinctively turned away and hit the children? How would either outcome have affected others… witnesses, those who care about us, the parents of the children? How many lives would have been injured, broken or lost? In both cases, the road would have been clear for our impatient motorist to speed away and possibly remain unaware of what he had done.

I could not help reflecting on the fragility of life. This gift that we are privileged to share can be torn away at any moment, by any number of unforeseen circumstances and there will be nothing left of us but a memory. Our emotional lives are just as fragile and can be broken by just such a lack of care as was shown by the reckless driver. We may be the guilty party, the one who causes harm… sometimes through a genuine misunderstanding or error, sometimes through a lack of empathy or care…  yet because we move forward with our own lives, we may not see the devastation we leave behind.

Our society is increasing the distance between us in many ways, even while it brings us closer in others. It is easier than ever before to keep in touch and to watch events unfolding across the globe, yet it is probably easier than ever before to remain isolated, touching the world only through the medium of keyboard and screen. It is our responsibility to ensure that we do not lose our ability to care… that, although we are undoubtedly the central point of our own consciousness, we do not learn to see ourselves as the sun in a universe of lesser satellites.

Consideration, empathy and kindness are social skills, and without social interaction, we can forget how central they are to allowing society to function. We see the effects of isolation every day and how quickly and insidiously these essential skills can be forgotten. Awareness and care for others can be unconsciously replaced with a false, but inalienable sense of self as the central point for all things. When one person’s journey…in their own eyes… becomes worth more than that of any other, tragedy will not be far behind.

It costs nothing except a moment’s thought and feeling to consider the impact of our actions. We will not always get it right, regardless of how well-intentioned we may be, but a little care goes a long way towards making sure that we do not go too far wrong. We cannot always avoid disaster, but if we can take responsibility for our own actions and open ourselves to the needs of others, we may not only be helping them, but saving ourselves untold heartache too.

41 thoughts on “A little care…

  1. This has really struck home for me, Sue. I have seen a friend suffer for over a month because of someone’s complete lack of care and empathy – of following the rules, regardless of the upset it has caused,My standing by her side, trying to help, to support has not lessened the suffering. Another friend says “you can only look after your side of the street” (actually quite apt, reading your post – and, thank goodness all turned out well, physically, yet leaving, I suspect, an emotional scar). So I do wonder about the varying awareness, of care, within us all as humans. And I have realised there is little we can do to alter that level or lack of compassion/empathy in others – except by speaking out, as you have done here. It’s a shame (inadequate choice of word, I know) that, sometimes, our words fall on deaf ears.But thank you for giving me a moment to pause and reflect… as always

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Judith. I am sorry to hear about your friend and sincerely hope she recovers well and soon. It takes so little to devastate a life…and the lives of those around them.
      No, we cannot change anyone else or their behaviour nor is it anyone’s responsibility to do so … we can only change our own. But we can speak out…and hope itis what someone needs to hear to make changes of their own.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I am surprised to read about this sort of behaviour on the road in the UK, Sue. I did not see this when I was there. The driving in South Africa is appalling and I know what you mean here about a total lack of consideration for others. It is very unpleasant and scary how our societies are going.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It happens everywhere, I am afraid Robbie. people are not that different the world over, and although I know many from overseas are surprised at the politeness of British roads in general, there will always be the odd one…

      Liked by 3 people

  3. We call them Mustgets. It doesn’t matter if they are behind you or behind someone coming in the opposite direction, they Must Get in front, regardless of the dangers. We’ve had several close calls too, and slamming on the brakes in the hope that no-one goes up the back of us is our only choice. For those who impatiently overtake us, more often than not we catch up with them at the next traffic lights or roundabout. We may laugh because it got them just one car length in front of us, but wonder what we would do if we rounded a corner and found that same car in a ditch or on its side.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. A close call. It is amazing how we can keep our wits about us at times like this. It’s as if another being takes over. So glad this ended up being a happy story and not the opposite. A good lesson as well to slow down.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This is huge, Sue. I try to teach this big, broad-scale picture every day in my classroom. It all starts with me, so children can learn to become kind and selfless, and put others first. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I totally relate to this, Alethea. I grew up in the era where people still sat at the same dinner table together at the same time, families watched TV or listened to the radio or just talked with everyone there, and children still played outside on warm summer nights, long after it got dark, and safely too. We wrote letters by hand and yes, children were still taught to write in cursive, something that here in the U.S. is not taught in all places. There was a sort of treasure in getting a letter. It came special for you and was not read on the worldwide web. Yes, I truly miss those times and it is very hard to get used to cell phones and all those types of things. So much of humanity is missing.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’ll get it right this time. I must have gone time traveling! I remember something that I did that seemed to make a huge difference in the attitudes of others on the road. I wish I could show it to you here, but you can see it somewhere down on my blog, allinadaysbreath.wordpress.com. I covered my 21-year-old car with fabric of all types and prints and color. When I drove down the road, people’s attitudes would change, and they would remember happier times and give me high fives, peace signs or thumbs up. It was such a wonderful thing, and something I never thought of before. I guess everyone out there on the roads is either stressed out, angry, not feeling well, overtired, or just having nothing to think of that helps them remember the best that is inside all of us. Anyway, I no longer have my little car, but it was such a joy to see people’s attitudes change and to know that somehow I had a part in that. I made a lot of friends in parking lots too. Even sort of scary looking people would come sort of close and a big smile would break out on their faces, and they would wave happily. I like to do things that people will find without knowing who did it, but that make them so happy. What a good world if we could all do something like that every day.

    Liked by 1 person

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