Sunday, September 11, 2011

"Is It I?"

Several weeks ago I was having some trouble with the battery on my wheelchair that keeps my ventilator going. After making sure it was fully charged, Jo Anne loaded me into the van to go run some errands.

As we pulled into the post office parking lot, the alarm on the ventilator began to sound – a piercing siren like noise. Because the ventilator also has an internal battery, we knew we had about 20 minutes to make it home, realizing we were on borrowed time. Leaving the car running, Jo Anne made a mad dash into the post office. As she did so, I could see that my date with a bean burrito and extra beans at Taco Bell was in jeopardy. She was back in a flash, jumped in behind the wheel, and slamming it into reverse, backed into a yellow cab that had not been there when she came out of the post office. As our back bumper collided with the cab, the driver came exploding out of his beautiful, shiny, and now dinged up yellow vehicle. He was a big man and it was evident from his appearance that he was from somewhere in the Middle East. Looking at the damage inflicted upon his rear fender, he began waving his arms and screaming. Before Jo Anne could even approach him, he was on his cell phone calling everyone he could think of – his boss, the insurance company, and maybe even Al Qaeda.

Knowing we were running short on time, Jo Anne tried to exchange information with him, but he would not get off the phone. She tried to tell him that her husband was on life support that was failing, and she had only minutes to get him home. She said that if he wanted to exchange information he would have to follow her home. He seemed to understand our urgency and moved his cab forward so we could leave. With that she got in the van, screeched out of the parking lot, and zoomed down Newport Avenue toward home. The poor taxicab driver had zero chance of keeping up with Jo Anne, and as we pulled into the driveway she was amazed that the cab was not behind her. However, I was not amazed!

Once safely in our house with my vent plugged into the wall socket, Jo Anne looked at me and with frustration in her voice said "You know, Jack, it is your fault that I backed into that yellow cab! If you hadn't broken your neck at Laguna Beach 22 years ago and been on life support, I wouldn't have been in that situation and smashed into the cab! I was so worried about saving your life that I just didn't see that cab when he pulled up behind me as I was backing out.”

I started to respond and to defend myself but then realized she was probably telling the truth. She can be very convincing.

Several days later just as we were about ready to drive into our housing tract, we saw the flashing red and blue lights of a police motorcycle right behind us. Jo Anne obediently, and I might add, with a sinking heart, pulled over to the side of the street. The police officer sidled up to Jo Anne's side of the van and identified himself, and then asked her if she was Jo Anne Rushton. She said yes and was amazed that he knew her name without even asking for her driver's license. He laughed and said he was actually on the way to our home when he spotted our van. He then asked about the accident that had taken place over a week ago with the cab. Jo Anne explained her version using me as evidence of the truthfulness of her story. However, having been previously convinced by Jo Anne's persuasive argument to me, I blurted out that I was the real culprit even though I couldn't drive, and even if he didn't believe that, he should go easy on my wife – no handcuffs or sirens or lights on the way to the clink. He believed our story after looking at me and that was pretty much the end of it.

Our insurance company did call us the other day, but I don't know what they had to say. I leave those insignificant things up to Jo Anne while I concentrate on more weighty matters like writing observations, reading the Scriptures, sending out e-mails, preparing gospel doctrine lessons and wondering what's for dinner.

Well, what is the point of all of this? Jo Anne has given me permission (isn't she a good sport) to use the tongue-in-cheek experience I have related above and apply it to a very real human character trait all mankind has possessed since the fall of Adam and Eve. I am referring to accepting the consequences of our actions without excuse.

Think back to the Garden of Eden episode and how blame was deflected and directed to others when God confronted Adam and Eve after they had partaken of the forbidden fruit. This was just the beginning of "passing the buck!"

We find it all throughout the Scriptures, in society – ancient and modern – in the workplace, and politics, as well as in society at large and in families.

I hope my son Mike won't mind me relating the following incident that took place when his two boys were very young. Mike was a Deputy Dist. Atty. and was accustomed to cross-examining witnesses and alleged criminals to discover the truth. He was putting his boys to bed one night and when he went into the bathroom he saw toothpaste spread liberally everywhere. The crime scene had become a Ground Zero disaster area. He brought the two boys into the bathroom and said, "Who did this?" Neither boy would confess to the toothpaste crime. Mike was at his cross-examining best but the boys would not cave in. Mike was getting increasingly frustrated with each passing moment and realized he was more successful with hard-core criminals in getting at the truth than with his two little boys. After sending the boys directly to bed with no story time, Mike carefully analyzed the boys' responses with his legally trained mind. He was confident that his namesake, Mike Jr, the oldest of the two, was the perpetrator, or at least the instigator, of the dastardly deed. Hoping to outsmart the guilty one, he entered their bedroom and said in a firm voice, “Spencer, I know you are the one that did it.” And taking the youngest boy from his bed, told him that he was taking him into the other bedroom to spank him. As he did so there was still no response from Mike Jr. As Mike proceeded with his threat, Spencer's eyes got big as saucers while breaking into a cold sweat as he awaited the awful punishment -- having been found guilty of the crime without really having had a legitimate day in court and adequate legal representation. Suddenly from the boys' bedroom came the anguished cry, "Dad, I did it, it wasn't Spencer! Don't hit him!" With that brotherly confession, the rod was spared.

My favorite scriptural example of this "fallen, natural man" character trait is found in Exodus 32. Moses had been up on Mount Sinai for a long time and when he descended with the tablets which contained the 10 Commandments he saw the people worshiping a golden calf. He knew that Aaron and his brother had made the calf for the children of Israel. We can only imagine what Aaron must have felt when he was confronted by his brother Moses. What follows is one of the most classic and lame excuses ever conjured up to cover one's culpability. I like to think that Moses actually laughed out loud at what Aaron told him in an attempt to defend himself. "And Aaron said, Let not the aanger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are bset on cmischief. For they said unto me, aMake us . Bgods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf." [Exodus 32:22-24 – Emphasis added]

The only thing that can compare to Aaron's lame excuse is all the finger-pointing in Washington regarding the budget and nobody willing to step up to the plate and admit wrongdoing or at least stupidity.

I believe there is a great lesson to be learned from the original apostles who when the Savior said that one of them would betray him, instead of saying, "I'll bet it's Judas, or Bartholomew," instead said, "Is it I?" [Mark 14:18-19]
I call their response "Apostalic Humility." I believe we can all use a little bit more of that as we exercise our agency and do dumb things every once in a while, because let's face it, "For the anatural bman is an cenemy to God, and has been from the dfall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he eyields to the enticings of the Holy fSpirit, and gputteth off the hnatural man and becometh a isaint…" [Mosiah 3:19]

Best wishes in your attempt to "yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit."


ionamin-W8FW8 said...

Loved this story! A sense of humor is a must, isn't it? However, for your sake--and JoAnne's!!!--maybe you ought to take a spare vent battery when you go out. Or get a cord that will power your vent via the cigarette lighter. We used the cord while we were in the van to save the battery life for after we got to our destination. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Diane J. in Missouri

Mindy Jo said...

Thank you for your observations! Hope you are doing well:)