Why forgiveness shouldn’t eliminate consequences

Ride on the road long enough and it’s almost inevitable you’ll be hit by a car, or know someone who has been. Sadly, like many reading this post, I know far too many whose lives have been forever changed due to the inattention, or more intentional misdeeds, of an errant motorist. Watching them, and their families, suffering through the protracted rehabilitation, psychological distress and career-ending aftereffects has been the trigger for much anger, frustration and soul-searching. Do I even want to do this anymore?

While every person and situation is different, over the years I’ve noticed a familiar pattern in how most of my fallen friends and club-mates respond. The first phase is pretty focused: stay alive and get home from hospital. But after this, as the day-to-day slog of rehab kicks in and they grasp the brutal new reality of their lives, they run out of energy to be angry or even care about the person who put them in their shitty situation. All too often, at this point the police investigation – if it’s even started – also loses momentum, and we all know how the story unfolds from there. Many cases never even make it to a courtroom, and of those that do it’s often a token wrist slap that awaits. Nothing to see here people, move on.

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Now I’m not for a moment blaming the victims. We only have a finite amount of energy and, without question, it’s best expended on getting better and regaining some semblance of normality as fast as possible. Forgiveness is also a critically important part of the mental healing process, for we can only truly move on if we’re able let the past go, however crappy it may be.

But….and there’s always a but…what happens when this forgiveness, be it overt or indirect, means the perpetrators effectively get away with their actions?

Surely it’s beholden upon us all to invest the time and energy to continue agitating for our fallen friends, to ensure full accountability is applied, justice is done and that negligent and/or criminal actions behind the steering wheels of vehicles have consequences in direct proportion to the human outcome of those actions?

I’m not a bitter or vindictive person. But we can’t just forgive and forget. If we do, history will continue to repeat itself. We don’t just owe it to our friends. We owe it to ourselves, and to every human being out there who continues to ride.

Otherwise, who knows who’ll be next?

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