Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Blame Game: A Lesson in Taking Responsibility

     Last December, three weeks before I put a hole in my bumper, I was in another car accident.  I was waiting to turn left onto El Camino Real at about 6:00 p.m. on a Friday.  The traffic was insane, and I remarked to my children, "I shouldn't have come this way.  This is dangerous."  I actually checked behind me to see if I could turn around.  The woman in front of me, driving a very big Mercury Mountaineer, pulled into the median to try to get across.  She realized that, not only was she not going to make it, but that her big vehicle was blocking oncoming traffic.  She put her vehicle in reverse, hit the gas, and slammed into the front end of my car.  The boys and I saw it coming.  I screamed, "She's going to hit us," honked the horn, and braced myself.
     She did over $1200 damage to the front end of my car, and after about ten days of trying to reach her by phone, her insurance company had to go to her house.  She told them that I rear-ended her.  She lied.
     She said she was sitting still, and I rear-ended her.  Despite the fact that I had two witnesses in my car, they said it was her word against mine, and her insurance would not pay.
     She lied, and we had to bear the burden for her choice to not accept responsibility for her actions.  For months after the accident, my youngest son flinched and grimaced every time he saw someone brake in front of us.  We had to pay our $250 deductible to have the car fixed.  We had to do without our car for a week while the vehicle was in the shop.  I currently have a huge hole in my back bumper because the second accident, which was my fault, happened three weeks after the first, and I didn't want them to think I was lying the first time, so I didn't claim it.
     She lied.  The injustice of it really rocked my boys' world.  They didn't understand it.  Why?  Why would she lie?  "Why?" they have asked me over and over again, especially my youngest.  He wanted to canvass the neighborhood, find witnesses, prove our innocence, hold her accountable.
     She refused to take responsibility when it meant repercussions for her.  She blamed someone else for her mistake.  She was selfish.  Who knows?  Maybe she was going to have a serious insurance hike if she was in one more accident, but still, shouldn't we do the right thing, tell the truth, no matter what?
     Ever since that accident, this woman has become the poster-child, in our family, for NOT doing the right thing, NOT taking responsibility for our actions, NOT admitting we are wrong even when it means getting in trouble, and NOT being willing to make it right with the person that we have wronged.  I've explained that this is an issue that goes back to, well, Adam and Eve.
     So, I guess, in the spirit of Romans 8:28, thank you God for giving my boys a very real, tangible lesson on owning up, making things right, and doing the right thing at all costs.  I have used the example of this woman over and over again when one son blames another for his own sin, when one of the boys refuses to admit wrongdoing, when one is making an excuse for bad behavior, when one son needs to make it right -- or when one of the boys is trying to make sense of why someone he knows will not take responsibility.  Adam and Eve, Aaron and the golden calf that just "jumped" out of the fire, Saul who offered the sacrifice because Samuel took too long, and a woman who said she was rear-ended to avoid having to be responsible.  
     I pray that my boys will remember this lesson, that it will be a part of who they are, and that they will stand up and be men who take responsibility, even when it's hard, because it's the right thing to do.

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