Rain keeps falling, the very heavens weeping as our community mourns the loss of a child, taken too soon by a culture that values presumed convenience and a romanticized notion of personal liberty over a young person’s life.
Is the individual who caused this at fault? Of course. We must all be accountable to our actions. But there is something deeper going on here as well. Why is a man driving intoxicated through an area where people live and play in the middle of the day? Is this due entirely to his personal failing? It is easy to say it is, to escape our own complicity in this tragedy. But it would not be true.
Like those caused by guns, which similarly account for 12 deaths per 100,000 people in this country each year, this death was caused not only by an individual but also by an instrument, one glorified and perpetuated in our society. This instrument, the automobile, is the leading cause of death in the first three decades of life, followed immediately by self-inflicted gunshot wound.
By contrast, the country of France has 2.83 firearm- and 5.5 traffic-related deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. Why the disparity? Sheer numbers, brought about by cultural orientation. In other words, an obsessive infatuation with the car and gun. The United States has by far the highest concentration of firearms, a world leading 120 per 100 inhabitants, compared to 15 per 100 for France. And we travel double the road miles, 13000 vehicle kilometers per capita versus 6200 for the French.
It is important to note here that the French have one of the highest rates of alcohol consumption in the world, at 12 litres per capita per year. In comparison, the rate in the United States is 9. It should also be said that the ratio of urban to rural population in the two countries is essentially the same, at approximately 80% urban. This by way of dispelling the notion that alcohol is to blame for this tragedy or that automobiles are a necessity here more than France.
No, we in this country simply prefer owning guns and driving cars to protecting its youth.