No Man is An Island!


I about had a heart attack! I came within inches of hitting a man who was jogging on the side of the road. By the time my car headlights hit him it left me no more than a split second to swerve so as not to hit him. Perhaps I wouldn’t have hit him even if I hadn’t made the last second adjustment. Perhaps I would have missed him by one inch instead of two…perhaps! That night’s close call with tragedy wasn’t the first time I have had such a harrowing experience with joggers. No, there have been a number of times I have almost hit someone who is running along a highway that doesn’t have a shoulder. I say to myself that they have every right to put their life in jeopardy, but their right to die might end up including me as their killer. And it’s that part of their jogger “right”, the part about me being a killer, that troubles me. I am sure that if I had a conversation with one of these professional “joggers” they would defend their position, by saying it is part of their birthright to be able to run on America’s roads. I don’t disagree with them on that point. I just don’t like the fact that my part of their freedom to run might include the word “manslaughter” on court papers bearing my name and  the name of the state in which I reside.

Over the course of my life I have run into many individuals, many that are teenagers, who shout to the rooftops that they have every right to be “highway joggers” when it comes to their lives. They reject the teachings of their parents, teachers, and spiritual leaders. Personal “freedom!” is their mantra and “I can do what I want, it’s my life and my body” is their siren call. The problem is of course, that their actions have an impact on other people. I can’t count how often I have seen “prodigal” sons and daughters land at the doorstep of their relatives. Without shelter, food or money they now beg for mercy from those who they so brazenly rejected. Their “highway jogging” has resulted in consequences that now adversely impact the lives of others. Others dabble in drugs, alcohol, and illegal behavior putting themselves in perilous situations. They then expect others to pay for their actions by “bailing” them out of trouble via their time, money or both. Certainly unforseen circumstances befall all of us from time to time but this is different than the ‘in your face’ rejection of sound principles some take delight in rebelling against.

Although we have been given agency in this life, we need to remember that our actions often affect the lives of others. The prophet Alma had a long talk with his wayward son Corianton and reminded him that his behavior had affected his ability to preach the gospel.  Among other things he said:

“Suffer not yourself to be led away by any vain or foolish thing, suffer not the devil to lead away your heart again…Behold, O my son, how great iniquity ye brought upon the Zoramites; for when they saw your conduct they would not believe in my words.” (Alma 39:11).

Corianton exercised his right to pursue worldly pleasures but didn’t take into account how it would adversely affect his father’s ministry. So as we travel through this life we need to be cognizant that no man is an island. If we live our lives as “highway joggers”, running perilously close to speeding cars,  it is often because we are guilty of being self-centered, which is an attribute contrary to the spirit of the Lord. So the next time we feel inclined to cry that we are “free” to choose, we need to remember to take into account the consequences it will have on others.


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