Friday, April 27, 2012
Looking back into the last 25 years, I see I have always been one to live by my heart, go for my dreams and do so with great passion. Through that I quickly learned how to roll with the punches, celebrate the successes, as well as get back on my feet through the falls. From creating the path when none existed, lighting the path when it became dark to blazing though it when it once again shined, I learned many lessons. These are the essential elements of progression and for me provide a rhythm to live by. And I am a being which rhythm is essential.
Back in 1992 I was given the opportunity to work abroad in New Zealand. I jumped on the idea and thought nothing up uprooting for a minimum of a year with possibilities of more. The world was my 'Oyster' and I was ready to share what I know, as well as learn from the new experiences and outlooks of a different culture. As expected there were plenty of challenges, hurdles and successes. It was time well spent.
However one particular incident I shall never forget as it made a deep impression in my heart and mind. Little did I know the lessons learned would be something I would need to utilize in my own life. Once again a big "hmmmmmmmmmmmmm".
For those of you who are not so familiar with the demographics of New Zealand: the 2 islands are inhabited by a combination of European born Caucasian folks, Maoris and Polynesians and Tongans. As expected there is plenty of animosity regarding the politics etc. Nonetheless, an interesting incident occurred that made we think.
One day there was a traffic accident where a young Polynesian man in a car hit another young Polynesian girl. He left the scene of the crime and she subsequently died. The authorities were looking for him as well as the tribal commune. The Tribal community has it's own set of rules and philosophies and the community is close knit. After a few days the driver surrendered. He confronted both his family and the family of the victim. At this point the police intervened. Because the young man had "hit and run" they wanted to arrest him. However the Polynesian tribunal said no! they wanted to deal with it in their own manner. Both families collaborated and decided to forgive the young man and even though one lost their daughter they were able to see above their loss and knew the young man would have to live with that burden his entire life.
The police were not amused. I do not recall the outcome from the police side as it was a long drawn out case as well as something that occurred 2o years ago. However I was perplexed by the attitude of the Polynesian community. It stuck with me. I pondered it. What would I do? Could I forgive? would I want vengeance? I realized the maturity of this family's actions were beyond what most people could fathom. Beautiful, sad but beautiful.
So 20 years later, I too am confronted with a similar scenario. the love of my life, the father of 3 beautiful children who looked up to him, the local hardworking bike racer, dependable friend to all those who new him was instantly killed by a young driver who made a mistake. A mistake that can and often happens to us all. Just a moment of separation. The mind is not focused. There is a small bend in the road. The car steers to far right. He tried to compensate by over steering left. The road was wet, he lost control just as 2 cyclists are coming down the other side of the road. they are in the bike lane on the left hand shoulder as they should. He cannot avoid them as his car is now out of control. My Yves front wheel impacts his front passenger side and is flung into the windshield, bounces off the car and into a median where he apparently died instantly. I'm sure (or pray) it was just a flick of a switch for him. His friend hits and flies over the car to be left with many broken bits and pieces. He is healing. It is a long road but he will make it.
8 1/2 months later I am finally allowed to read the official dossier as the case has been closed. The detectives have done their forensic work and the official determination based on mathematical equations and logistics have been determined.
And for me, they ask "do you want to speak to the driver? We can arrange that through a mediator if the driver is willing to talk to you. He has the option not".
"Yes", I say, "I want to look him into the eye and let him know that I forgive him for being human. However he needs to own up to his responsibility as a human being to confront his mistake and see that all of his actions in his life do have impact on others whether he know it or not. He has to live with this".
I do not expect any response nor even an immediate understanding of what I say. After all he is only 23. Of anything, I just need to free myself from the anger and sadness he has created.
I look to the Polynesians, I recall their brave and selfless convictions and hope by extending forgiveness to this young man, he too can find peace.