Mistakes were Made

Should we be punished for our mistakes?

This is a question that came up to me while thinking about a traffic accident. In the case of a traffic accident, there is a 100% chance that somebody is at fault. The laws of the road were written in such a way that, if everybody abode by them to the letter, there would be no accidents. What if both people are at fault?

Consider this situation. A man is driving 60 mph on a 40 mph-road. There is another man 100 feet down the road who wishes to make a left turn on to the road. He misjudges the timing and distance of the car that is hurtling toward him and pulls out onto the road. Both cars are demolished. Who is at fault?

The word “mistake” implies that whatever unfavorable result was the cause of an oversight, misjudgement, or some otherwise inevitable or unstoppable force that caused us to make that mistake. Knowingly committing a fault is not a mistake. But since the man who tried to make the turn is the one who made the mistake, he is technically the one at fault, right?

Well, sort of. They’re both at fault, but our instinct tells us that the man who was speeding is the one who needs to be punished, and not the man who pulled out. Truthfully, they body need to be punished.

How can we learn from our mistakes if we aren’t punished by their results? There are many situations where people make mistakes and don’t learn from them because they don’t feel the fire that would have burned them. The people who choose to make bad decisions are likely to be those who haven’t learned from their mistakes.

Mistakes are inevitable. It’s a fact of life. But in many cases, a few more moments of observation or thought can save you from making that mistake.

Make mistakes. Unless they are avoidable.


Addendum: my blog turned five years old a week ago! Happy birthday, blog. I’ll be taking it to kindergarten this year. In all honestly, I’m surprised I’ve been keeping up with this thing. Thanks to everybody who’s stopped by.


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