It was a “teaching moment” on one of the kids’ channels, but the words of wisdom were so profound.
Every action starts a chain reaction.
Oh, if only this simple, yet profound life lesson were taught in homes and schools across this nation! This would be the revolution meant for dreams!
Everything in life is a choice. Every single choice we make has a consequence- good, bad or indifferent.
Unfortunately, our society has morphed from the days of choices and consequences to making excuses and blame games. The world is literally spinning out of control because we’ve allowed the chain reaction to become distorted and mutilated.
By allowing the chain reaction to become distorted and mutilated without repairing it, we are now seeing the effects of what a dysfunctional society produces. Rather than teaching our children that their actions have consequences, they are now coddled by an educational system which teaches them everyone is a winner at everything, and there are never any losers.
We are reaping the consequences of this indoctrination in every facet of our society.
One example of the consequences we are experiencing can be found in the case of Justine Winter, a Montana teenager. Her actions started a chain reaction that has cost not only her, but many people, dearly!
Since the dawn of time, teenage girls are synonymous with “drama”. However, by smothering the expectation of taking personal responsibility, society has cultivated a new ‘breed’ of ‘drama queens’. Justine Winter is in this “new breed’ of “drama queens.’
In March of 2009, Justine Winter and her boyfriend, Ryan Langford, were arguing. He had read an entry in her diary about her feelings for one of his friends. They argued, and when they parted ways for the evening, she drove away believing they were breaking up. She was distraught, as most teenage girls are when there is a romantic breakup.
The two teenagers continued to argue for nearly half an hour- by text messages- as she drove home. With each text she became more frantic and irrational.
Justine: “Goodbye, Ryan… I am telling the truth when I tell you I love you. My last words, I love you Ryan.”
Ryan: “Yeah, whatever you say. You win, I lose.”
Justine: “If I won, I would have you, and I wouldn’t crash my car,” she wrote in a distraught message. Then, in yet another message, she added, “Thats why I am going to wreck my car. …because i am a terrible person. … i want to kill mysself [sic]. good bye ryan. I love you.”
She made a choice- and acted on that choice- which started a chain reaction that would change many lives forever.
Life was quite the opposite for Erin Thompson, a 35-year-old pregnant wife and mother to a teenage son, Caden. Caden, a very talented drummer, had the honor of being one of only three students who were chosen to play at a school concert. They were driving home after the concert when their car- and lives- literally collided with Justine.
Passerby’s who stopped to help did not think Justine would make it. She was airlifted to the hospital where she spent 7 weeks in ICU and went through multiple surgeries. She left the hospital with a neck brace.
Erin, her unborn child, and Caden died at the scene of the crash. Erin’s husband was given the devastating news in a phone call from the police.
After an investigation of the crash, police determined that Justine was driving 85 miles per hour on a bridge that was under construction. She made no effort to brake as she entered the construction zone. Justine’s car crossed over into Erin’s lane, colliding head on and causing a horrific explosion. When no explanation was found as to why Justine crossed over into Erin’s lane, they continued to investigate. It was not long before the “Why” question was answered. The text messages between Justine and Ryan were discovered.
The text messages were clear- Justine had threatened to crash her car just moments before the actual crash occurred. The girl who wanted to end her life, survived the crash, but took the lives of 3 others. Patrol Sgt. Ernie Freebury summed it up by saying:
“She did just exactly what she said she was going to do.”
It sounds like an open and shut case, right? Not so fast!
Justine says she doesn’t remember that night at all, and her family says she didn’t really mean what she said in the text messages. In fact, her family disagreed with the investigators on the cause of the crash, and Justine and her father sued the estate of Erin Thompson, claiming that Erin caused the crash, not Justine. They also sued three companies who were involved in the construction, alleging improper traffic marking and lighting at the construction site.
Talk about adding insult to injury! This takes the cake in that department!
This is the moment Justine’s father failed her miserably. Rather than standing beside her, supporting her through the tragedy that changed her life forever, he allowed her to blame someone else for a choice she made. Not only did he allow her to blame someone else, he also encouraged her in the blame game by acting on behalf of her and allowing her to file the lawsuit. While his love for his daughter is understandable, enabling her in her cowardice has only hurt his daughter more, not helped her!
In a town that was already divided in this tragedy, the division grew even wider. Many people were appalled that the Winter family blamed the very people that had already suffered so much. Yet, not everyone agreed with this sentiment, and could not believe that this was ruled a crime.
Friends of Justine’s family said they believed it was ” a plain and simple accident”. How do they explain the text messages she sent just moments before saying she was going to crash her car?
Attorney Ed Corrigan explained it, saying:
“She purposely went into that wrong way in a traffic, ran into that car … and had to know, or should have known that by doing so, she was going to kill the occupants in that other vehicle.”
Is Mr. Corrigan right, or is it something entirely different? Could it be that Justine is just another symptom of the warped, self-absorbed society we have become? Could it be that Justine was only thinking of herself, how she felt and what she wanted, never thinking of how her actions could affect those around her?
We all have to make choices every day of our life. Some of our choices are good. Some of our choices are bad. Some of our choices do not really make a difference in the outcome of life at all. Some choices have devastating consequences.
Unfortunately, this life lesson is slowly being eroded by a society that would rather teach our children to blame others for their actions rather than taking personal responsibility.
20/20- Watch the online episode of this story