Inflicting Death

Today, I inflicted death. Not metaphorically, but literally. I killed a living creature.

I accidentally ran over a cat with my car.

It was a horrific moment. It seemed to happen in an instant, yet play out in slow motion. The flash of white and brown fur. The sickening thud. The even more sickening lurch as my car’s tire rolled over the cat. Then watching the cat try to stagger away, only to collapse with spasms. A few seconds later it was gone. Dead.

Ironically, I was probably at my best behavior as a driver. I was awake and alert. I had both hands on the steering wheel. I was well under the speed limit. And I wasn’t distracted by my radio or phone. And yet, in that moment, my best still inflicted death.

That’s a very disturbing thought. My best resulted in death. A life was snuffed out by my hands even though everything I was and did in that moment was good.

And the effects will continue rippling outward. Later tonight, a family will wait in vain for their pet to return home. Tomorrow morning they will continue to worry. Perhaps over the next few days they will tape pictures of their cat throughout the neighborhood, hoping someone has found their pet. But, there will be no happy ending to this story.

All I could do in the aftermath was call the police so they could dispatch animal control and leave with a sober reminder of my deficiencies, sorry for what I had done.

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2 thoughts on “Inflicting Death

  1. yes, the unnaturally fast human technology crashes with not-so-fast nature.
    This reminds me of an episode when I was a university student in Eugene Oregon at Univ. of Oregon. I was walking back from campus along a very busy street. There, just off the main drag, near the parking lane was a cat, clearly having just been hit by a car. It lay there, its eyes totally blasted out of its crushed head and it still was alive. Trembling. I was struck with a sense of radical helplessness as I watched this harmless creature suffer agonizingly toward certain demise. Frankly, I left it there: what else to do? Later, the next day, I went back to see; nothing–no body, no sign.
    I never forgot that moment. It taught me that all creation takes consequences for our human recklessness.
    Was your driving reckless? No, by your testimony. But, is the sum total of our devotion to metal and oil? I contend, yes.
    Such are the consequences.

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