It happens all the time, all over the world.
A loving family is struck by a tragedy that could have been prevented had a different dot decision been made.
What’s a Dot Decision?
When I was a child, my father explained dot decisions like this …
“Imagine your life, drawn on a piece of paper,” he said. “Each decision you make is displayed as a dot on your ‘life map’, and the direction of your life changes at every dot. Some decisions are big. Some are small. All are dots. Whether you made the decision yourself or it was made for you, it constitutes a dot decision and it changes the course of your life.”
When Dot Decisions Destroy Lives
A few days ago, my daughter reached out for prayer. Her friend, who I’ll call Nancy, had suffered a tragedy. Nancy had four children. Last week, Nancy’s father dropped her off at work with her youngest child buckled safely in his car seat.
Then Nancy’s father made a dot decision.
His decision wasn’t one of those conscious choices we make after some well-thought-out deliberation. Instead, it was a decision made in a distracted moment. Who knows what was on his mind that morning, but something occupied his thoughts so much that, upon returning home from taking his daughter to work, he left his grandchild strapped in the car.
Nancy’s baby died that day.
Because of a careless dot decision, Nancy is grieving the loss of her young son. A little boy has lost his life. And a grandfather has lost … well, everything.
When news of a family’s misfortune spreads, so do opinions on social media
After Nancy’s loss, everybody had an opinion:
“What kind of grandfather would do that?”
“How can you forget you have a kid in the car?”
Valid questions. But how can any of us possibly imagine what was going through a devoted grandfather’s mind that would distract him to the point of leaving his precious grandchild in the car? I’m told he’s on suicide watch now, left to live with the destruction caused from a single dot decision, made on one preoccupied morning.
Another grandfather, another dot decision, permanent devastation
Yesterday, two more family members contacted me. A family with whom they’ve been close for decades had suffered a tragedy because of the dot decision of a man known for his kindness, loyalty, generosity, and love. I’ll call him Walter.
Walter’s 25-year old grandson was living with him and his wife, who I’ll call Cynthia. It’s believed that the grandson was having some trouble. Without knowing details, let’s assume he was stealing from his elderly grandparents, struggling with addiction, and chronically lying. Point being, tension had been building for quite some time. The young grandson had been making one dot decision after another that was not only changing the course of his own life, but the lives of his doting grandparents.
Yesterday afternoon, a heated argument ensued between the grandson and his 74-year-old grandfather, who used a walker to get around. The altercation escalated. Nobody can predict what was going through Walter’s mind when he made a dot decision that would destroy his entire family and all who love them.
Pointing a handgun at the young man who had spent the majority of his life with his grandparents in that very living room, Walter pulled the trigger, shooting his oldest grandchild in the torso. Cynthia, also reliant on a walker for mobility, was nearby when the gunshot sounded and chances are, she was making her way to the living room after hearing the resounding blast.
At that very moment Walter made a second, and final dot decision.
He turned the gun on himself, ending his life after taking the life of his grandson.
Cynthia, his wife of over 50-years, was left to … to … I don’t know. What does one do when they’ve just been the victim of somebody else’s dot decision? When everything they’ve ever known is shattered into millions of pieces?
Social media resounds with insensitivity…
“Same crap, different day.”
“They lived in the hood. What do you expect?”
“Section 8 is the problem here.”
“Getto. Big surprise.”
I didn’t know this family well. But I knew them, and some of my family members knew them intimately. The comments are cruel, insensitive and wrong. They hurt those left behind. This family was a good family. They’d lived in the same house their entire lives. It was their home, despite the aging neighborhood. While it’s true that they didn’t have a lot of money, how does that justify the heartless comments?
Tragedies like these are, themselves, unbearable; however, the thoughtless words of others slice the wounds of the suffering even more deeply. These are two families, left to pick up the pieces of a shattered world, yet now, they also have to deal with the evil stares, rude comments, and ignorant opinions of those who never knew them.
And these are only two families. Two of many who are grieving while dealing with hateful strangers.
I’m not justifying nor condoning what happened to these grandchildren at the hands of their grandfathers, but I am saying, perhaps it’s more productive for society as a whole, if we were to pray for families like these when we hear of their adversities, rather than scold, mock, and condemn them.
While we’ve, hopefully, been fortunate not to have made dot decisions such as these, let us always be diligent, paying heed to our “life map” and the directions in which each of our dots will point us. It’s easy to make a life-altering decision in a distracted moment or a moment of rage or fear.
May we also be cognizant of the fact that our own dot decisions will, inevitably, redirect the life maps of those we love.
Bless you all and your ever-evolving life maps!