second decisions is something we do all day. Do we choose the
ham and cheese sandwich or the salad and lamb? Do wear the blue
shirt or the green one? Do we have our coffee in a mug or a cup?
Obviously not all decisions carry the same weight or
I had to make a
split second decision last Sunday morning. It was, on
reflection, perhaps not my best. I got knocked off my bike by a
forby. You know, a Toorak tractor. I certainly didnít expect
that outcome from my decision but I put my trust in someone I
had never met to make another split second decision and give way
Now, I live in a
tourist town that is frequented by, well, tourists. Iím not
going to slag off at all tourists who choose to drive but I
guess I expected that in a town that people visit to relax, it
is inevitable that they let their guard down. In fact I used to
be one of the tourists who came to visit this town before moving
here. Nonetheless, there is a theoretical bond of trust between
I had almost
made it through the round-a-bout and fortunately I had already
unclipped my left foot, just in case. The impact was a bit more
brutal than I would have liked but there wasnít any slow-mo or
Ďlife flashing before my eyesí moments. Just the sound, the air,
the road and the treddly. Iíll tell you what though, I got up
The poor bloke
who hit me was as white as sheet when he got out of the car. I
think he thought I was going to biff him one because I unleashed
a rather long tirade of expletives on him as I gathered up the
bit and pieces Ö of the bike, not me.
My ankle was
rather sore and I couldnít stand. Sinking to the grass I took
off my helmet, shoe and sock and inspected the damage. Seeing
and feeling there was nothing broken I turned my attention to
He was a
youngish bloke who, as I said, seemed like he was in shock. He
admitted fault, and kept repeating that all he saw was a flash
of red (my jacket). As we swapped details the driver of the car
who was giving way to the bloke who hit me, came up and gave me
his phone number. ďLet me know if I can help.Ē He said, before
As I sat there
rubbing the sore bits I made another split second decision. I
would not call the police. Nothing was broken other than the
metal and rubber of the bike. Other than my ankle and hip (which
took the brunt of his bull bar) I was OK. So why get the legal
system involved? I wasnít after retribution.
Over the last
few days, in the lead up to the seventh anniversary of the
so-called 911 events, Iíve had the chance to reflect on my
decisions and their outcomes.
decision (to stop or not) was taken in good faith. I saw the
driver look my way as he slowed down coming into the
intersection. The fact that he says he didnít see me cant be
changed. The fact that he hit me canít be changed. But what was
in my control in the aftermath was how I chose to react.
reaction, the tirade of abuse and threatening language, is
perhaps explainable by the rush of adrenaline after the
collision. I never had any intention of hitting him, a small,
still rational, part of my mind told me that would do no good.
decision, to not get the legal system involved, was a far more
rational one. Although, I must admit, I did take some pleasure
in watching him squirm, obviously thinking I would. The question
I have been reflecting on is why I chose to not invite the local
constabulary to this little party?
In the aftermath
of 911 there was shock, anger, pain, fear and rage and
ultimately a totally unbalanced response. A response that was
not even once directed at those who were ultimately supporters
of the suspects. The shock, anger, pain, fear and rage were used
by those who hold the strings of power to feed their own egos
and agendas. The tens of thousands killed as a result of the
decisions we allowed them to make far outweigh the original
we, collectively, have allowed to be taken in our names have
resulted in terror, shock, anger, pain, fear and rage that
threatens to blow back at us and increase the cycle of killing
and revenge killing.
While my little
accident pales in comparison to what happened in September,
2001, itís often in the minutiae of one to one social
interactions that our connection to larger social tides is
revealed. Sure, I was really pissed that this bloke had hit me.
But what would dragging him through the courts achieve? Sure, I
was shocked that he had broken my trust. But what good would it
do him or me to get involved in something that would affect his
family and potentially his other relationships. I realised that
my response to this situation gave me the power to decide on
both our futures.
The pain on his
face was enough to convince me that the reoccurring image of
that red flash would punish him far more severely than loosing
his license and a few dollars in a fine. I had an opportunity to
not perpetuate the cycle of retribution that fuels so much rage
which then feeds back in the same cycle until it bursts out in
more anger, pain and fear.
As Colonel Rudd
preaches the gospel of war and enjoins us to support his push to
buy more weapons and killing machines, perhaps the time has come
for those who should and indeed do, know better to step back and
put themselves in the shoes of those who have done nothing to
deliberately hurt them, real or perceived.
Iíd like to
think that as my bruises emerge and the pain in my bum cheek
recedes that the small and insignificant gesture of trust and
kindness I showed the bloke who knocked me off my bike will
circle around him and his family and friends in such a way that
it breaks the cycle of rage and ushers in some calm to a
situation he or they will face.
Perhaps the next
split second decision he has to make will have a little less
traumatic outcome than the one we both made last Sunday morning.