Speaking of... Life, Hope & Truth

Who Is Responsible?

For me, one of the most tragic events in a long time took place two weeks ago in the Dallas area. A 6-year-old boy was walking home from a store with his mother and 2-year-old sister at about 7:30 p.m. on a Thursday evening. They came to an intersection where the light was red and his mother was only a few feet behind him. As the boy entered the intersection, suddenly a car came from nowhere, running the red light, and hit him squarely, carrying his body about 100 yards. The 6-year-old was pronounced dead shortly afterwards at the local hospital. His mother watched it all happen right in front of her.

The driver of the car stopped momentarily and then sped away. What sort of monster would do this? Most expected that this driver was exactly that, some sort of monster. After the accident, the mother gave a plea for the driver to come forward, and she kept referring to the driver as a “he.”

For five days no one took responsibility for this action until a woman, also a seventh-grade social studies teacher, turned herself in. Her appearance was not that of a monster or an uncaring person. In one moment of distraction, she forever changed several lives.

The driver obviously knew she had killed a child. One witness claimed that she stopped, opened the door, looked at the child and then sped away. Five days later she turned herself in after resigning from her job as a teacher, but this was after police had already gone to her home acting on a tip from the school.

It is never easy to accept responsibility for your actions, but the alternative is always much worse. We live in a world where many reject responsibility for their own actions. Even our president and those of his party still blame President George Bush for all the economic woes of America. I cannot recall in my lifetime ever hearing a president blame the previous president after he finished a first term and was reelected for a second. When do people accept personal responsibility?

In the world of Christianity, repentance is a core principle which requires an admission of guilt. One can’t go to God and say, “It really wasn’t my fault, and here are my excuses for why I should not be blamed.” Of course, repentance is not repentance without an acceptance of responsibility.

It was a sad story to read about the schoolteacher, who had dedicated her life to helping children, killing a 6-year-old in a car accident. It was even sadder to read of her fleeing the scene and not coming forward for five days, and then only after the police came to her home and a description of her car was flashed across the news. Did she come forward to accept responsibility or was it because she knew she would be found out? We will probably never know, but the lesson is clear: However terrible your actions are, you must accept personal responsibility. Then, and only then, can the healing process begin.

For Life, Hope &Truth, I’m Jim Franks.