A Sixty-Second Lesson

I saw a dog get hit by a car today. It was a horrible start to a Monday morning, and everything happened in a matter of seconds.

I was in the right lane of a five-lane road when I heard a voice on the other side of the street shout what sounded like, “Oh no!” Then came a thump. I thought the car next to me had run over some sort of debris. I looked in my side-view mirror in time to see a dog rolling across the lanes of traffic. All of the cars behind the accident stopped as the owner ran to rescue his pet. Some of the cars pulled over to the side to assist the dog owner. Sadly, the driver of the car that hit the dog just kept driving.

Realizing there was nothing I could do about the situation, I drove home in a somber frame of mind. Thinking back on the incident, I can see a lot of actors, actions and lessons in this sixty-second scenario:

  • The pet: The poor little guy was just out for a brisk morning walk with his owner. Apparently he broke free from his leash and headed to where he thought the action was–five lanes of cars! The leash was his restraint, but it was also his protection. When we feel like we are being restrained, it could be for our own protection. Let’s not be too quick to break free to run to something that could end up being very dangerous.
  • The pet owner: He began his day with what was probably a routine dog walk. I’m sure seeing his dog hit wasn’t on his list of things to do today. Life can blindside us with disappointments and hurts. No one is immune to challenging circumstances, but God has promised to help us in the day of trouble (read Psalms 46:1-3). 
  • The casual observer: That would be me. After realizing what happened, I just kept driving as I observed through my side-view mirror. The images of what happened became smaller as the distance between myself and the accident became greater. After turning a corner, the entire situation was out of my sight. When we witness unfortunate circumstances, sometimes our first tendency is to not get involved. I rationalized that other cars were stopping to help, so what difference would it make if I turned back? Maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference for the pet owner, but it would have made a difference to me knowing I had done everything I could to help. If we do everything we can, we won’t have to second-guess ourselves–as I’m doing right now.  
  • The active observers: All of the cars behind the accident stopped. I saw some pull over to the curb as drivers and passengers got out to help the pet owner. It was a very moving sight to witness. No doubt, the only regret those drivers have today is that they had to witness such a sad scene. I’m sure that not one of them regrets stopping to help.
  • The oblivious driver: The guilty driver seemed totally unaware of what had happened. Did she even look in her rear-view mirror to see what happened? Apparently not. A few blocks away, she made a left turn at the light and went on with her day, completely oblivious to the chaos she left in her wake. It’s easy to throw people under the bus when we don’t take responsibility for our own actions. People can be seriously hurt from our thoughtlessness. Maybe we need to be more alert of what we do or say so we can avoid unnecessary injury. 

I’ve had better starts to my weeks. But, the silver lining is that the few-second tragedy this morning taught me a lot of lessons that will help me become a better person. I hope they help you, too.

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