What defines a person's character?
Are there two broad categories of people-good and bad?
Do we employ a litmus test when judging people?
Last week, a reckless amount of alcohol and speed, led to a fiery automobile accident which claimed the lives of former Jackass star Ryan Dunn, as well as his friend Zachary Hartwell. Dunn was the driver who fatefully indulged in excess, Hartwell played the role of wrong place wrong time wingman.
Before the smoke had cleared, before all the "evidence" had been presented, the always "in session" jury that is the public, had began deliberating its verdict, its judgment on Dunn. Of course, as often is the case, the jury was hung, with opinions residing on opposite sides of the spectrum. Depending on who you ask, Dunn's death was either a tragedy, a sad case of a talented individual taken too early, or a hasty but fitting culmination to a irresponsibly led life which was perpetually flirting with disaster.
Well, who has it right?
Life isn't always so simple, so black and white. Ryan Dunn did live a life of excess, he did at times behave as though he was invincible, as though he was immune to the laws which man and nature have demanded we follow. He drove drunk, he drove fast, he paid the ultimate price. Zach Hartwell did as well.
But is Ryan Dunn a bad person?
To blindly lament his death, while not considering the circumstances under which it occurred, while not acknowledging the poor judgment which ultimately served as his fatal disease , is to erroneously allow these deaths to have happened in vain, is to condone, albeit indirectly, such mindlessly impuslive and reckless behavior.
However-myopia can be just as dangerous as blindness. To lazily, and moreover self-righteously, condemn and vilify Ryan Dunn, is to celebrate a narrow minded view of the world, of people. Simply, it's wrong.
You know what else is wrong? Drinking and Driving. It puts one's self at risk, and worse-it put's the lives of others at risk. Speeding does the same. So does eating and driving. So does texting and driving.
Have you ever done any of those?
I'm not proud of it, nor would I dare make excuses for such behavior , for it is inarguably inexcusable.
But am I a bad person?
Do I deserve to die?
Apparently many would answer yes to both of those questions.
What defines Ryan Dunn?
Do we conveniently place him in either the "good" or "bad" person category?
Life isn't all or nothing.
Ryan Dunn was a flawed person, with a family, with a girlfriend, with friends-all of which he loved and loved him, who drank and drove, who made millions of people smile and laugh, who tragically killed his friend, and who from what I could see, was a pretty good guy.
Do you find that description hard to swallow? Too complicated-with attributes which seem incongruent, which don't fit neatly into the title of "good" or "bad"?
Sympathize with their loved ones, recognize the tragedy.
Understand why it happened.
It doesn't have to be one or the other.
Be Good Friends,