Sunday, April 11, 2010

Passing by Suffering

While driving to Nelspruit last week, thru the most beautiful part of the journey, a winding road thru the mountains with a river down below on one side, I came across a horrible accident.

It was a mini van, likely being used as a taxi, and there were several people involved.  It hadn't happened long previously but there were several cars stopped and a police car as well.  Many ladies were sitting on the side of the road, appearing to be in shock. 

Pardon my being graphic but the worst of it that I saw was the man in the passenger seat, still sitting upright but with no door, with blood covering his head and chest - he appeared to be dead although I of course can't be certain. 

There was another man lying on the ground, who may have been trying to gather his belongings or he may have been injured.  He turned his head toward me as I slowly drove past and it seemed to me our eyes met. 

Then I kept going.

Within two minutes I began to question my decision to keep driving.  Shouldn't I have stopped?  Perhaps there is something I could have done to help.  Sure, there were other cars stopped, and even a police car, with the lone police officer standing idly by his car, mind you.  Emergency services hadn't yet arrived and wouldn't for at least another 40 minutes.  I know this because 20 minutes later, I passed them just beginning to head toward the scene from the town of Nelspruit. 

So what could I have done?  I'm not a nurse so I couldn't have helped in any significant way medically.  But couldn't I have sat with the ladies as they thought what to do now?  Couldn't I have helped people gather their belongings strewn all over the road?  Could I not have held the hand of someone in pain and just been a caring presence?Could I have helped the man lying on the road whose eyes locked with mine for an instant?

Could I not have stopped to say "I care" and not simply passed by people in their suffering just because I didn't know exactly what to do?

The circumstances couldn't have been better for stopping:  I was alone so I didn't have to consider someone else's preferences; I had no appointments I was rushing to in the city; it was only about 10am so no chance of getting dark; I was in South Africa and not Mozambique so language would not have been a barrier.  That is in contrast with what happened two weeks ago exactly on this same road but further along in Mozambique: 9 at night, language an issue and other people in the car with me who weren't totally comfortable with stopping as we passed by the accident with two people lying in the road. 

I have seen more accidents and injuries up close here than I ever have in my life before (In fact, this exact same portion of road is the scene of the single most horrific thing I have ever seen as I stopped at a previous accident there three years ago). I also see more suffering in daily life as well. 

I don't simply want to pass it by. 

1 comment:

The Reeds said...

It's so hard to make sense of it all and to know where we fit in. I'll pray for you.