I confess that I’m not a NASCAR follower. But I do know a few names and numbers–and I do know there are days when people die on that oval altar of speed and big money.
I have known two salt-of-the-earth people who endured the trauma of striking and killing another human being with their vehicles. In both cases, the drivers were innocent of any wrongdoing. The pedestrians just stepped in front of them on busy thoroughfares–both at night. The drivers were not speeding or texting or fiddling with the radio. They were just driving. But in a split second, a life ended, and their lives were changed forever.
Did you know that our eyes naturally adjust to the brightest object in our field of vision? When we are driving at night, our pupils are constantly adjusting to dashboard lights and oncoming headlights, and McDonald’s arches, and reflective road signs. Objects without lights aren’t as evident.
My parents taught us to stay out of the middle of the road…to walk on the left-hand side…and to look both ways before crossing. They also insisted we wear brighter clothing when we walked or jogged in the evenings–so drivers could see us.
Now,… shifting down.
August 9, 2014, during a Sprint Cup race in upstate New York, veteran NASCAR driver, Tony Stewart struck and killed 20 year-old driver, Kevin Ward, Jr. Ward had climbed out of his car after an accident allegedly caused by Stewart. In the nighttime venue, under the glare of stadium lights, the young driver– dressed in a black jumpsuit and helmet, walking directly into speeding traffic like a crazed matador–was hit by Stewart’s car. And it was all Tony’s fault?
Investigations and hearings rightly found no wrongdoing in Stewart’s actions and gave him the go ahead to race again. Of course, now, there is talk of a civil suit against Stewart.
So what’s my point?
Though it is tragic young Kevin died–it wasn’t Tony’s Stewart’s fault. In a moment of anger and frustration, the young driver did what anyone would admit was a foolish act–and, sadly, it cost him his life.
We so want it to be–we need for it to be–someone else’s fault, don’t we? When we mess up…when the deal goes south…when we hurt ourselves or someone else.
But sometimes it is our fault. And if we can own it, we just might learn from it….
…and live to drive another day.