The Fifth Commandment and Reckless Behavior

Thou Shalt not Kill. Many think we’ve probably got that one down. Most of us don’t routinely kill other people each day or even once in a lifetime. So, on to the next commandment! Well….not so fast.

First of all, Jesus warns that the heart of the 5th Commandment not to kill includes not only the act of killing but also the things that lead up to killing. He uses the example of holding on to vengeful anger (cf Matt. 5:22) and of hateful attitudes that depersonalize and dehumanize others (cf Matt 5:22). In some of these matters we may all fall short from time to time. We may not actually have killed but our anger or hatred can be such that some one “might as well be dead for all we care.” We can get to the point where we stop reverencing the dignity of another’s’ life and in this we have transgressed the heart of the 5th commandment according to Jesus.

A second and even more common way we might transgress the 5th Commandment is reckless behavior that endangers the life of others. The most common form of this is reckless driving and also “distracted driving.” Excessive speeding and erratic lane shifting, blowing through stop lights, texting while driving, excessive chatter and banter with other passengers, drunk driving and so forth are all ways we can endanger the lives of others. The catechism teaches the following regarding reckless behavior:

Unintentional killing is not morally imputable. But one is not exonerated from grave offense if, without proportionate reason, he acted in a way that brings about some one’s death, even without the intention of doing so. (CCC 2269).

The following video is difficult to watch. It is NOT for the faint of heart. But it is meant to strongly admonish especially the young, but also the not so young, that distracted driving can have awful consequences. If we are not serious about driving safely then we are reckless and endanger the lives of others. This is a violation of the respect for life demanded by the 5th Commandment.

4 Replies to “The Fifth Commandment and Reckless Behavior”

  1. This video makes scary, sobering viewing as you say. Too bad it is probably too realistic to appear on American television which is ironic really, considering the popularity of so-called reality shows…

  2. here is an article i found…
    The driver at the heart of a high-speed crash that killed a 60-year-old hospital executive who had pulled his disabled car to the side of Interstate 71 on Monday has a long history of speeding.

    Stanley Ivey, 56, of Louisville, Ohio, was cited by the Liverpool Municipal Court just four months ago for driving 22 miles over a 30 mile-an-hour speed limit.

    Prior to that in October 2009, he was also cited for speeding in West Virginia. Earlier that month, he was convicted of failing to control his vehicle by the Canton Municipal Court in a case that involved an auto accident. In June 2009, Ivey was convicted in the Massillon Municipal Court for driving 82 miles per hour in a 55 zone.

    Of the Ohio cases, six points were added to his driving record. Points reflect a driver’s history and can result in higher insurance as well as suspension of a driver’s license if enough points – 12 – are amassed over a three-year period.

    Monday’s crash occurred just before noon in the south-bound lanes near Pfeiffer Road on Interstate 71 when Ivey was driving a black Mustang with red racing stripes along the left-side shoulder and slammed into James Lester’s Buick Century.

    The impact created a fireball as the Loveland man’s Buick careened across several lanes of the interstate. Lester was pronounced dead at the scene. Ivey survived and is at University Hospital.

    State investigators were still trying to sort out a number of things, namely how fast Ivey was driving and why he would drive along the median as fast as he was.

    Witnesses told the Enquirer on Monday that it appeared Ivey was driving at least double the posted 65 miles-per-hour speed limit.

    Others predicted his speed to be about 100 mph.

    Multiple drivers called the Ohio State Highway Patrol describing Ivey’s vehicle and complained of his erratic driving.

    “I need the highway patrol, please,” a woman told a Warren County dispatcher. “I am on southbound 71 and I have a black and red Mustang doing about 100 mph on the left hand shoulder.”

    After hitting Lester’s car, Ivey slammed his Mustang into the concrete barrier.

    Ivey remains in critical condition at University Hospital, according to spokeswoman Diana Lara.

    Meanwhile, the widow of the man killed remained in shock Tuesday. She said she has yet to make funeral arrangements as she struggles to deal with the sudden loss of her husband of 29 years. The couple has seven grandchildren.

    She said her husband was on his way to work at Shriner’s Hospital for Children Cincinnati when he died. He has worked at the small, close-knit hospital since 1986, currently serving as director of fiscal services, said Louise Hoelker, hospital spokeswoman.

    “It’s just a very sad day at the hospital,” Hoelker said. “But, I think at the same time, people are remembering Jim and sharing stories and just remembering what a great guy he was. He was wonderful to work with and he will really be missed. We fell terrible for his family and friends.”

    Karen Lester said her husband headed to the hospital a little later than usual Monday because he was looking for a new car. She said she isn’t sure why her husband’s Buick broke down.

    “I don’t understand what happened,” she said. “We didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye. I am still unclear why he was on the side of the road. They said he was waiting for help, but he never called me.”

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