Pedestrians and Cars

The end-of-week news cycle is focused on the attack in London that occurred on Wednesday. A lone driver plowed his car into pedestrians on the city’s historic Westminster Bridge. The latest reports are that four people are known dead, with another 50 people receiving injuries ranging from minor to very serious.

While the media unravels details, seeking to supply motive and all the other things that have become the norm in reporting news events, real humans have been forever impacted by one man’s act. Mary and I know all-too-well how the actions of a solitary figure have the power to permanently alter one’s personal journey.

How our news is received is now ideological. No longer are most people able to simply process information and come to a conclusion. We have grown accustomed to having others tell us what events and actions mean. It’s important to frame everything in some larger narrative—terms like “terror,” “lone wolf,” and of course, the need to link it to “Islamism.”

Personally—especially since Mark was killed January 21—I no longer care to consume news that plays to the same old binary ways of framing the world and my life.  Actually, my aversion to black and white explanations dates much further back than that.

Historic Westminster Bridge, London

This morning, I’m thinking about the four people who died as a result of a car being used as a lethal weapon. Cars maim and kill pedestrians in our country and obviously other Western countries where the car is king, or at least a primary mode of travel.

From what I’ve been able to gather, 5,376 pedestrians were killed by motorists in the U.S. in 2015 (according to NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts). That’s more than 15 people every day. Additionally, an estimated 70,000 pedestrians were also injured. Since 2006, when 61,000 people were injured, the 2015 number represents a nearly 15 percent increase in these accidents. From research into hospital records compiled, only a fraction of pedestrian crashes causing injury are ever reported.

But numbers don’t move people and rarely do they alter behavior. Sadly, it all-too-often takes being hit directly in the center of your life to change behavior and perception. Since Mark was killed, I no longer talk on my phone in my car, or take phone calls, period. I’d encourage you to start doing the same.

I read the profiles of the four victims of Wednesday’s incident (what some are calling “an attack.”). All of them left behind loved ones who this morning are grieving. As parents who lost their son, our hearts go out to them, knowing how much it hurts, having been experiencing the pain of loss for nine weeks, today.

This morning, as I sit here finishing my post, I’m thinking of Keith Palmer, Kurt Cochran, Aysha Frade, and Leslie Rhodes. They were described as “a wonderful dad and husband,” a “good man,” someone who would “give you the shirt off his back,” “just a lovely person,“ and a person who would “do anything for anybody.” Four caring human beings who had their lives snuffed out by a driver who felt the need to become the arbiter of life and death.

I hope these families find some meaning in the death of their loved ones. I’d also wish for them that law enforcement doesn’t bungle evidence and that they are more forthcoming with details of the deaths related to their son, daughter, neighbor, and friend. Furthermore, I’d wish for them that they don’t have to read about the clinical details of the cause of their deaths like we did on Monday, when we received Mark’s report from the Florida medical examiner’s office.

Loss is hard and grief is forever.