Coming back across the line from the dentist I crossed the street against the light. I jaywalked. Hey, when in Rome . . . in Mexico everybody jaywalks.
As I was crossing the street I thought of a conversation I’d had a while ago on rules and consequences with one of my kids. He was standing on the curb in Manhattan, watching a man down the block trying to cross the street in traffic. The man was hit by a bus and thrown 20 yards or so landing near my son. He was dead.
My son talked about how helpless he felt standing there unable to do anything to prevent the accident even though he could see it coming. Watching, he had a sense almost of fear for the stranger. It seemed wrong that this man who had been very much alive was so quickly and unexpectedly killed.
As I listened to him I thought of a similar incident from many years ago when I lived in London. An elderly woman was hit by a taxi in front of our house. She lay on the sidewalk with her skull fractured, thick dark blood oozing from her head. We brought out a blanket and pillow. We called the ambulance feeling uneasy, helpless. It’s not something you forget easily.
There are times when we think those who break the rules should suffer the consequences, should be brought up short, should learn they cannot break rules without suffering the consequences. They should be punished.
But then I see the stark reality of consequences and I have to back off. Do I really want to suffer the consequences of my foolish, thoughtless decisions?
Justice has its place, but I vote for mercy. Without mercy we are all stepping out in front of the bus.
So in this life I hope we learn, I hope we follow, and I hope that we do not always have to suffer the consequences of our actions. Thank you for mercy, and second chances, and third. . . .
Maybe I’ll have time to learn and change. Maybe today I’ll quit jaywalking through life.