Last week I was caught up in some horrendous traffic as I was going to pick up my two wee boys from Childcare. That day (it was Thursday), I was out of sorts and not feeling particularly motivated – as a result, I didn’t do my usual hospital rounds on Thursday afternoon, instead putting it off til Friday and going home an hour early to do some housework in the quiet time before the kids got home. As I was driving to the Childcare centre I thought – wow – isn’t the traffic bad at this time of the afternoon?
Then I saw the police lights up ahead. As I got closer I could see that the cars that would normally go along past the hospital were all being diverted on an alternate route. As I got closer still I saw the fire engine and the ambulance up ahead at the pedestrian crossing – and my heart filled with dread. I turned the radio over to the local ABC station to hear what the traffic report was – hoping like anything that it was just a multi-car accident and that no one had been seriously hurt. That set of traffic lights where the crossing is, is a bit notorious for accidents. The one right outside the hospital emergency department where all the staff come out each afternoon around 5 pm and cross the road to the staff parking across from the hospital.
Then the news hit the radio that there had been a pedestrian fatality at the crossing and that was why the traffic was so heavy. At that point my heart lept up into my throat – I know SO many people who work in that hospital. When I worked there I used to use that crossing daily – as many of my ex-colleagues still do. I just couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that the reason an innocent person had died that afternoon was because another person had acted so stupidly by running a red light. By not thinking about how their reckless actions might hurt someone else.
The lady who died was not one of my ex-colleagues but there is such a camaraderie between those who work in the close knit community of the hospital that it doesn’t matter. Many of us spent the next few days grieving for her and her family.
I asked my husband the next afternoon when we were driving to collect the boys from childcare in a pondering kind of way – How can we bring our kids up to have strong values and sensibilities of judgement, compassion and empathy for others and an understanding of the consequences of their actions? I don’t think I could bear it if this person who acted so recklessly was one of my children.
I grew up afraid of authority and fearful of getting into trouble. I toed the line for that reason – in part I think it was because I didn’t want to do anything that would have dissapointed my mum.
My Husband’s reply was that all we can do is set a good example and keep doing what we do – hoping that we will shape our boys into respectable young men who have a strong social conscious.
Keep on keeping on then I say!