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Don’t Jump to Conclusions After Reading One News Story! [OPINION]

Risto Viitanen

The news has covered several fatal accidents in the area lately. After each one the community has had a lot to say on social media. And I have a few things to say about that.

The most recent example is the fatal car accident on 27th Avenue in Kennewick last Tuesday afternoon. A woman was struck and killed and the man behind the wheel was jailed.

Immediately after people were hyped up on Facebook. The facts reported by the media were very limited, but opinions on Facebook were rampant.

It amazed me seeing these posts of empathy, but also the overwhelming amount of negativity. It took audacity for some people to post comments for the public to see placing the blame on the driver AND the deceased!

A majority of the comments included the would-have’s, the could-have’s, and the should-have’s — if either party had done things differently, it would have resulted in a different outcome, etc.

Some people were quick to assume the driver was on his cell phone and that for this reason he was the bad person. Other people were quick to assume that the woman was not in a marked crosswalk, and for this reason, her death was her own fault.

Another recent incident was the case where a man forcibly entered a private home in West Pasco and the homeowner shot and killed him. Again, people were quick to place blame and voiced some very harsh opinions of who was the victim in the case and who was the actual aggressor. Some said that the man deserved to be shot because he entered someone’s home without permission. Others argued that the homeowner should not have been so quick to pull the trigger.

It is not our job as a community to place the blame. It is not a matter of right or wrong. At the end of the day, the courts will consider all of the factors at play and will serve justice upon those who are guilty of crimes.

It is not the community’s job to prosecute someone twice for the mistakes they made. There is never just one victim

The families of the person behind the wheel or behind the gun are victims, and though it may be difficult for some to see, the person behind the wheel or gun themselves are victims as well.

The public’s harsh comments are not necessary, and are not helpful. In reality, the words may hurt the victims more than they help them. The families of all parties involved have access to the harsh comments, and some may be hurt by them more than others. What we need to keep in mind as individuals is what it might feel like being on the receiving end of our words.

What if someone we loved had just passed away and we read comments from people blaming our loved one for their own death? Or what if we were the family member of the person behind the wheel or behind the gun and we heard people portraying our loved one as some kind of monster?

If we provide support and empathize for those involved in tragedies our community will become stronger and more united as a whole.

As Dalai Lama once said, “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them”.

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