Friday, August 13, 2010
Throwing rocks is, in general, a bad idea.  I've thought for a long time about exceptions to this rule, and have only come up with skipping rocks across a lake, and maybe using a large stone tied to a rope as an anchor for your canoe.  In those two cases, by all means, throw away.  But in all other cases, if you find yourself with stone in hand, arm cocked and ready to release, ask yourself "is this a good idea?".  I can pretty much guarantee the answer is no.  If you answer "yes" to that questions, ask a friendly unbiased passer-by if THEY think it's a good idea.  They will likely say no.  Listen to them, they have better judgement and insight than you do. 

I'll give you two examples of stone throwing gone awry.  Warning: This somewhat humorous post will have a sad ending and a moral (just call me Aesop).  If you can't handle the heavy stuff, only read the first story then close the window and live in blissful ignorance.

Example 1: 6th grader ideas, better in head than in action.

My dad tells a lot of stories.  You see, he has a twin brother, and when they were growing up, they did a lot of things that were story-worthy.  I can say with some confidence that some of these stories were probably embellished over the years, but I imagine they all start with a grain of truth.  This story starts with my dad and his brother in 6th grade (I think... Dad, feel free to correct my historical mistakes).  He, his brother, and some friends decided that maybe they would play a game involving rocks.  They stood on opposite sides of the street, and started throwing rocks at each other.  Not surprisingly, one of the boys got hit in the head, leaving him with a sizable gash to his scalp, and a pretty big dent in his pride.  This event was somehow relayed to the school (maybe they were in front of the school?  I don't remember that detail), and they boys were all forced to go to each class in the school and talk about why throwing rocks is a bad idea.  Lesson learned.

Example 2:  Teenage boy, poor impulse control, poor(er) outcome.

A few nights ago in Davidson County (just south of Winston-Salem), a group of kids were having a party.  A 17 year old girl was on her way to the party when a 21 year old guy threw a brick through her windshield.  It fell into her lap, seemingly harmlessly causing her some pain where it hit, but luckily not causing her to crash the car, or hitting her in the head.  Why he threw the brick remains unclear.  It may have something to do with her previously dating his cousin, it may just have been a joke.  Whatever the reason, it did more damage than anyone knew.  Hours after the incident, the girl began feeling ill, and was taken to the hospital by a friend.  She was found to have massive internal bleeding due to a liver laceration, and died shortly there after.  I doubt the kid who threw it planned on lacerating her liver and killing her.  I doubt he planned much of anything.  He probably picked up the brick, though about how he was pissed and wanted to do something to her because of it.  He should have thought more.  Because now she is dead, he's in jail facing a life sentence or the death penalty, her family is distraught, and her classmates are in shock.  Because he threw a rock.

We can't predict all of the cascades of events that might happen because of our actions.  But we can predict the ones that are just a stones throw away.  Don't drive drunk if you're not prepared to crash and hurt yourself or someone else, or lose your license.  Don't do drugs or smoke if you're not prepared to be addicted.  Don't buy a plant if you're not willing to water it.  Don't buy a big house if you can't afford the electric bill to heat or cool it.

Whether you think about them or not, you will be forced to live with the consequences of your actions.  So you'd better think about what those consequences well be before you act.

Because tragedy can be just a stones throw away.



About Me

I am a Family Medicine intern at a community hospital in Indiana, navigating the new world of being a physician. I am privileged to work in a field I love, where every day is a new and unpredictable challenge.
I am not only a doctor, but also a cyclist, runner, DIYer in the making, lover of the outdoors, traveler, and human.
Human, MD is a glimpse into the world of a young doctor who is just trying to stay true to herself through the grueling whirlwind of residency.


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