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It's your decision by ljphillips34, on Flickr

Deadly decisions: We could be guilty of fatal errors, too

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It's your decision by ljphillips34, on Flickr
It’s your decision by ljphillips34, on Flickr

There have been numerous stories lately about two disparate organizations, General Motors and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, that tell the same story — a story about people who can’t think beyond themselves.

Employees of both organizations made decisions that led to the deaths of others. Listening to or reading the latest update on these scandals will sicken many people because it’s hard to comprehend the implied callousness of the people who made those decisions.

But there is a simple fact of life that is even more sickening: You or I may have made the same decisions. An old phrase, questionably attributed to the Rev. John Bradford, says it best, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

In the first paragraph I said that these people “can’t” think beyond themselves. That ability only comes from God. While you or I may be repulsed by the decisions that led to those deaths we cannot escape the reality that all humanity is alike. Given the right (or wrong?) set of circumstances we might all be unable to resist the temptation to cover our own butts and/or think only of our own futures or reputations.

My question: Have you ever made a decision because it would make you look good, despite the awareness that others would be hurt by it? Think a long time before answering that question because the chances are really good that the answer is yes. I have. I deeply regret those decisions. And, yes, I made more than one.

But, you might ask, who cares? Nobody died as a result of my decision(s). But others were devalued or made to suffer or struggle. I didn’t care because I couldn’t care. And the same is true for you.

That’s why Paul wrote the words in Romans 7. Read them! And it’s why Jesus said, while being nailed to the cross, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” He said that because they, like the bad-decision-makers cited above, couldn’t make the right choices.

Before you condemn the guilty at GM or the VA, remember that they are no better or worse than any of the rest of us. We are all sinners, and we all need the forgiveness that comes from God. But we need more than forgiveness for ourselves. God’s forgiveness empowers us to forgive — even to forgive the people whose decisions led to the deaths of others.

Mark Azzara

About Mark Azzara

Mark Azzara spent 45 years in print journalism, most of them with the Waterbury Republican in Connecticut, where he was a features writer with a special focus on religion at the time of his retirement. He also worked for newspapers in New Haven and Danbury, Conn. At the latter paper, while sports editor, he won a national first-place writing award on college baseball. Azzara also has served as the only admissions recruiter for a small Catholic college in Connecticut and wrote a self-published book on spirituality, "And So Are You." He is active in his church and facilitates two Christian study groups for men. Azzara grew up in southern California, graduating from Cal State Los Angeles. He holds a master's degree from the University of Connecticut.

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