Blame is a funny thing. We do anything to avoid it at all costs, yet we are desperate to assign it when any issue occurs in our lives. It is difficult to accept that a tragedy occurred for no specific reason, and so we look everywhere until we find someone to make sense of the senseless. It is difficult to accept the randomness of life, because by definition that randomness strips us of control.
Several weeks ago in a small town in New York a husband planned a “surprise”party for his wife. He couldn’t keep the secret, but he did everything he could to make it perfect...and safe. He knew there would be drinking so he rented a bus for the seventeen family members and friends. When the bus broke down right before the big party (randomness), he was able to find a limousine that carried up to eighteen passengers (randomness).
The limo company had recently failed inspection on vehicles it was using, and the driver assigned to this party had often complained to his boss about the dangers he was facing. He refused to take out some vehicles but decided to take this run (randomness).
All should have gone well on this night when a loving husband set out to celebrate his wife’s thirtieth birthday...but it didn’t. One terrible crash took the lives of twenty people...the birthday girl, her three sisters, their three spouses, two brothers, several newlyweds, several sets of young parents, the driver and two random people in the parking lot where the limousine landed after losing control. The only survivors were those who had reasons not to join the party...a fiancé, and a cousin (randomness)...and were communicating via text.
Within hours people were assigning blame, and ultimately they might find someone who was at fault, but several reputations will be destroyed along the way. Family members will go through the misery of “what ifs” as they try to make sense of their loses. The limousine driver’s family will be harassed over something that he might not have been able to control. The rest of us will need to find a reason...something to help us believe that it would never happen to us...we would surely know better.
I have come to believe that in the greater scheme of things we must always take control of and responsibility for our actions, but sometimes control and responsibility are taken out of our hands. By Oxford definition an accident is “An unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury.” Though you might find someone to lay blame on due to negligence in this instance, the result of their negligence was unexpected and unintentional—-an accident. Punishment will be meted out, and changes will hopefully be made, but neither avoiding or assigning blame will ever make things right.
In a world where natural disasters and utter randomness seem to control much of our lives, we need to be kinder to ourselves and to others because that is something we can control.
I came across a new book by an author I enjoy (randomly) and was not disappointed with his latest offering. The Shotgun Lawyer by Victor Methos is a well written legal thriller that I highly recommend.
As always a complete review of this book follows my blog.