Marolt: A test that should never be graded
This is not an exercise in finger-pointing. Rather, it is intended that all fingers be held together on both hands with palms together praying that poor decisions do not lead to tragic consequences.
So that this won’t be linked to actual events or people, I use two hypothetical characters to make my points. The first I’ll call “Me” and the second, “You.”
You and Me have been drinking. Neither is fit to drive, but their car door seems easier to open than a pocket from which to pull a cellphone or a few bucks for a cab. They both get into the car.
Answer the following questions. We’ll discuss the answers at the end:
1. Who has made the worse decision?
c. Both made horrible decisions
2. Now, let’s say You gets into the driver’s seat and Me in the passenger’s. Now who has made the worse decision?
c. It’s a tie
3. Let’s switch the fact pattern a little. Suppose that You is drunk and Me is sober. You takes the wheel and Me politely obliges. Who has made the worse decision now?
c. Neither has acted smartly
4. Reverse it now, Me is drunk and moves to the passenger side and sober You drives, but Me forgets to fasten his seatbelt. Who is not acting smartly?
a. You, for not insisting all passengers buckle up as required bylaw
b. Me, for being forgetful in his your current state
c. This is a tough call
5. Regrettably, this last scenario is the worst imaginable. You and Me end up in a horrific traffic accident and Me is critically injured. Does this change the answers to any of the questions above?
6. Who suffers the most as a result of this tragedy?
c. Everyone who loves either or both of them
Ready for grading? For question 1 the answer is obviously C, because both You and Me have made horrible decisions to be anywhere near an automobile after imbibing. Mercifully, we are grading this test on the curve and, sadly, the average adult has been in this predicament and entered the automobile, too. Accordingly, there are no points taken away, no matter how you answered.
The answer to question 2 is more complex. You makes a really bad choice to drive while drunk. But Me has not chosen wisely, either. One could argue that Me actually made the worse decision. Me might have trusted any outcome to his own skills as a drunken driver instead of handing that over to another. Again, we will not take off points for any answer.
Question 3 is a bugger. You drunk in the driver’s seat is definitely troublesome, but Me sober in the passenger side is not blameless. Me, having sober judgment, might be held to a higher standard for allowing You to drive them both. We must be an easy grader here, too, I’m afraid.
The fourth question is an awful one. You, the sober, is the right choice for designated driver, but Me should fasten his seatbelt. Likewise, You is responsible for his passengers complying with the law. No answer on this question shouldn’t be scrutinized severely.
Question 5 is harsh. Unfortunately, we cannot be lenient on grading it, because the answer is clear. What happens after poor judgments are made that do not transform the original decisions made in the moment to be better or worse after the fact? To wit — if a person drives while drunk and makes it home safely, does that mean their decision to drive home drunk was a good one? Of course not! What happens after poor decisions are made basically comes down to luck — dumb luck if alcohol is involved.
Question 6 is our last and, if you struggled with it, I’m glad, because it is impossible to answer. In a case such as this, there are obvious physical injuries and less obvious emotional ones, too. They are excruciatingly painful in different ways. Both can last a lifetime. Nobody can predict how anyone might react to tragedy. We cope in our own ways. As we all know, too, it is oftentimes more painful to watch a loved one suffer than it would be to take on their overwhelming burdens ourselves.
In an instance such as we have described, there is far too much blame for all involved to bear, but what there seems always to be lacking and what could actually help the most is compassion. The only way to make this unchangeable outcome better is to start divvying that up abundantly to all.
Roger Marolt knows this test is harder to pass than it is to win the blame game. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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