The story I am about to tell is so very sad indeed, but it says so much about life.
I spent several years working in SE Asia in the 90's. The region was absolutely booming at the time. For all the vibrancy all around me on a daily
basis I was constantly amazed at how little value was placed on human life itself. It always seemed like a great dichotomy to me.
Where I worked was about 80km from where I lived, so I had a fairly long drive every day. To make matters worse, most of the sites I worked at were
deep in the jungle (hence the long drives). I used to marvel at all the different modes of transportation people used. The drive each day was
treacherous though, and when it rained it became even worse...deadly even. We were 3 degrees north of the Equator so needless to say it rained a LOT!
Three hundred or more inches of rain per year was not uncommon.
There used to be a section of road we drove down which we named "Suicide Alley". It was by far the most dangerous road I've ever driven in my life
(and I've been in some DANGEROUS places). To look at it, it wasn't much...just a 17km long, straight, flat, two lane highway (paved) surrounded by
triple canopy jungle on both sides. (note: to explain why this section of road was as dangerous as it was goes beyond this post) I probably saw more
fatalities on this section of road than I've ever seen in my life before or since. Most of the times what we would see would just be fresh wreckage
by the side of the road. It was tragic, but we were removed from it in our air conditioned western vehicles. It was as if it was another world.
(before you judge me, read on).
One of the things which just blew me away there was how many people rode scooters (tiny motorbikes). They rode them on the interstate highways,
backroads and even off road. They were everywhere. I just never could believe people would ride their scooters down such a crazy road as 'Suicide
Alley'. Every single day I would thank the stars above I made it past this section of road alive.
One day I was driving home from work and it was pouring rain. There was probably two inches of water on the road, every low spot was flooded.
Lightning was striking everywhere. Yet the motorbikes rode on. It was their only means of transportation. Traffic on Suicide Alley that day was
moving about 50kph (25'ish mph) which was actually fairly fast, all things considered. In front of me I had two tandem dump trucks (part of why this
road was so dangerous). All of a sudden both trucks in front of me braked hard and slid off the road. I was hydroplaning right into them.
Fortunately I didn't hit the trucks, or any oncoming traffic, but the road was now blocked. The rain was coming down in sheets.
The silence was deafening, just the pouring rain. Something was very wrong, this much was obvious, but what wasn't clear. I got out of my 4x4 (I was
the leader in a column of about 6 other company vehicles). What I saw as I walked around the second truck in front of me will forever haunt me.
A motorbike with two riders, a couple, had stopped on the side of the road (there was no shoulder). The 2nd dump truck in front of me had struck the
couple. The young woman passenger on the bike had been thrown clear, she was injured, but not badly. The driver of the bike had been struck and run
over. By the time I had gotten out he had been moved away from the truck to the side of the road. The girl was nearly emotionless (this shocked me).
The custom (being a predominantly Muslim country) was to cover the dead immediately. I will never forget seeing her trembling hands as she draped
soaking newspaper over her husband/partner. And it rained, and rained.
(it brings tears to even type this now after all this time) But, this isn't the end of the story.
There would be no rescue, no ambulances...not there. There was just life, for whatever it was worth. To my westernized cultural upbringing, and
being somewhat new in-country at the time, the incident seemed tragic beyond description. By now there were people out on the road directing traffic
and what have you. However, those directing traffic weren't doing what I expected. They were clearing the road. They backed up the trucks, got them
back on the road and got the traffic back moving. Moments later some small Asian man tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to move my vehicle.
Where? I asked. He pointed down the road. As I looked around in disbelief, I saw traffic slowly moving by.
Life had resumed, and life would go on.
There was nowhere to go but straight ahead. Not even my windshield wipers could clear the rain from the windshield as I drove off. I could do
I learned something in that moment. Don't let life pass you by, it can end so fast and be so meaningless if you let it. It could have been anyone on
that road that day; it could have been one of us. The stunning part of all of it was how fast people just moved on.
...and then it rained.
Your life is important to YOU and what you make of it. LIVE it! Where there is courage to live, there is hope.
edit on 1/3/2016 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)
Well written account. I visualised the incident well from your words.
The moral of this story for me is don't let the West become so blasé about human life. I am revolted by this. I know it is a question of culture and
values. I know it has become like this because the culture has been influenced by attitudes that have arisen from hard ship and bad treatment. It
appals me. I don't want the West to descend into this vicious circle night mare and so easily that could happen. Once we are in it our own lives will
lose value in terms of the way others perceive us. Does anyone want that?
That is what worries me about the shooting of minorities (and all victims) by police in the U.S. If it becomes too much of a daily occurrence it
becomes endemic to the culture. It becomes matter of fact and people become immune, blasé, normalised into this and no longer question it. Then the
excuses begin as to why it is so. The truth is there is no excuse for devaluing human life. Once we are normalised into it this disease of perception
bleeds into every aspect of life. That is why I am no supporter of euthanasia, state torture and execution.
You have witnessed first hand how a culture can become socialised into accepting outright inhumanity and injustice and considering it normal and
I am a humanist and believe the West do have some things very right indeed. The value we place on human life, though far from perfect, is something to
live up to and something good that other areas of the world like Saudi Arabia and others desperately need to learn from.
I am usually very critical of the UK, but the UK has got a better balance on this than even the rest of Europe or the U.S. In terms of human value I
think the U.K is the shining light on planet Earth with Western Europe and U.S coming a close 2nd and 3rd respectively. I hope some day the U.S can
over take the U.K even and be the true bastion of Freedom. As it stands I think the U.K leads the world. I am very critical of euthanasia practises in
some of Western Europe for reasons I stated and that is why they lose out to the U.K in my own opinion.
edit on 3-1-2016 by Revolution9 because: (no reason given)
Man you caught me on my third beer. two more and I would have cried.
Point being since I was little and especially now I get scared about how desensitized people are. On top I'm not.. I cry more than most guys and I was
in the Army. But one of my main themes lately is to get people to love each other. So many people love me and if I died all the sudden which could
have happened many times people would hurt.
The fact that we watch people dying all over the world and no one is crying over it. It's sad in it's own way.
But like I'm saying keep that heart alive. Sure it hurts, but if nothing hurts, nothing feels good either. Humanity hangs in the balance.
I read Live instead of Live..
We are living right now alive in the moment LIVE... on air. the red light is on. It's going going going. NOW.
Cherish, Love, and enjoy it.
edit on 3-1-2016 by Reverbs because: (no reason given)
Life goes on, except what were those dump trucks doing on slick muddy roads in the rain? They went on down the road, running people over till this
business trumped life that day, and probably on many days.
You have to do what you have to do, but what if what you have to do is love people?
I like that one. I would be the guy in the first truck with my Army awareness of stay alert stay alive who saw the little tiny not lit up bike and
slowed down earlier.
Life is worth more to me than anything else really except heart. Heart surpasses life. but death for cars to drive on a road is a little bit of a bad
trade. Sarcasm. It's a VERY bad trade. But it's a trade we potentially make all the time.
My ex was a great driver she saved me and other people from so many accidents and we were never in the wrong either. We came around a mountain side
one time and a giant Jeep was all the way in our lane, and we were 30 feet away. She used magic and shrunk our car or something...... Damn...
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