By Rev. Joseph M. Esper
Someone once compiled a collection of excuses and explanations for automobile mishaps, taken from actual insurance claims. A few highlights:
–The other car collided with mine without giving warning of its intentions.
–An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my vehicle, and vanished.
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–I’d been driving for forty years, when I fell asleep at the wheel and had an accident.
–A pedestrian hit me and went under my car.
–Coming home, I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don’t have.
–As I approached the intersection, a stop sign suddenly appeared in a place where no
stop sign had ever been before. So I was unable to stop in time to avoid an
–The pedestrian had no idea which direction to run, so I ran over him.
–The telephone pole was approaching. I was attempting to swerve out of the way when
it struck my front end.
–I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law, and headed over
–As I reached the intersection, a hedge sprang up, obscuring my vision. I just didn’t see
the other car.
–The guy was all over the road, and I had to swerve a number of times before hitting him.
–My car was legally parked when it backed into the other vehicle.
It’s easy to be amused by the excuses people come up with to rationalize or explain away their own mistakes and failings—but might we sometimes be guilty of doing the same thing?
How many times have we tried to shift responsibility onto someone else—and were we really pleased with ourselves afterwards?
It can be hard to say “It’s my fault,” or “I should have handled that better,” or “I really wasn’t thinking clearly; please forgive me.” Doing so, however, not only diffuses tensions in difficult situations; it’s also psychologically and emotionally healthy. Taking responsibility is a sign of maturity, and an important part of striving to be our best selves—and that’s very helpful in terms of our long-term happiness and self-respect.
We can’t control everything that happens when we’re out on the road (for there really are some bad drivers out there), but we have a great deal to say regarding where our journey through life ends up. Instead of coming up with excuses for our failings, we’re better served by being honest with ourselves, by looking for reasons to be grateful, and by recognizing opportunities to be kind to others—for these are the things that help us safely reach our final destination.
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