Consequences

Fire-hose-through-a-BMWSo, I’m assuming most of us in the emergency services world feel a little bit vindicated when we see a picture of a car, illegally parked in front of a fire hydrant, with a hose run through the smashed out windows. We have all seen a few either online, or in the news, or have even been on an incident where it was necessary. Let me begin by stating I don’t have ANY problem with it. From the day I learned to drive, I was told that parking within 15 or 20 feet of a fire hydrant (depending on state) is illegal and would result in a ticket. You were warned, you chose to violate the law, there were consequences.

Recently, I was caught speeding.  I pulled over and took what I thought were my lumps. When the police officer returned with not a traffic ticket but a uniform summons (criminal charge), I was floored. First lesson- Don’t speed in Virginia. But the consequences certainly didn’t fit the situation. I was not going to fight the ticket or even complain, but a criminal charge? You don’t have any option EXCEPT to fight it.  My point, however, is not to complain about the ticket but to indicate that I am POSITIVE I will be watching the speed limit in Virginia the next time I drive through.  In fact, I have been watching it closer ever since.  You see, I realize that there is a serious consequence to my actions that could jeopardize my career, my way of life, and my pocketbook.

It seems these days that events occur and the consequences don’t sink in as a lesson.  Instead it is someone else’s fault. It was someone else’s fault there were no parking spaces. It would have been someone else’s fault if anyone had died in the fire because a water supply couldn’t be established. There are certainly stupid rules on the books and stupid laws that shouldn’t be.  However, there are certainly consequences for not adhering to those laws, and the consequences are meant to discourage people from taking that chance. Anyone who suggests that prison and a potential death sentence doesn’t dissuade people from killing others is delusional; what do you think the murder rate would be like without consequences? If individuals are willing to take a chance on the odds of not getting caught or sentenced versus prison and a potential death penalty, yet kill someone anyway, they are either not capable of understanding, or don’t care about the alternative.  The rest of us realize that killing has consequences and we don’t do it.

Not all rules are fair.  Not all laws make sense. And not all good rules or laws are enforced, or even enforced fairly. We live in a society of individuals and those individuals must adhere to rules that keep us able to exist together. But to break a law and not expect consequences, or to blame others (especially if it was your own selfish behavior that created the issue to begin with) is ludicrous. If you do something wrong, realize there will be blowback if you are caught, and instead of blaming the world, fix the situation and move forward.

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