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There but for the grace

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Published on: Thursday, January 23, 2014

By Brian J. Karem

The usual pandemonium and chaos once again overtook the region as the latest “Polar Vortex” descended on us and dumped several inches of white, dry snow on our backyards, driveways and streets.

Our ability to cope is perhaps best seen by the woman I saw on a deserted county road Wednesday morning.

The street had been plowed, but still had some ice on it – after all the temperature had dropped into the single digits early Wednesday morning.

Fearful of losing control of her Ford four-wheel drive truck, the woman was doing 15 mph on a road where the speed limit is 50 mph. I followed behind her at this glacial pace until I got the broken yellow lines indicating I could pass her. Speeding up to about 40 mph, I then did so.

She responded by flipping me the bird.

Thank you I mouthed at her and blew her a kiss.

God, I love Montgomery County.

Maybe it is the weather, but there is definitely something in the behavior of residents in the county that is a little off putting.

The saddest event regarding this occurred in Germantown this week where two young toddlers are dead. Police have charged the mother and a friend with stabbing her four children – two of them unto death – during an attempted exorcism.

I have covered too many cases of young children dying during my life time and every time I see a new case it reminds me and pains me to remember a traffic accident in the fog I covered when my oldest son was but 8-months-old.

When I arrived on the scene of the fatal accident, I saw a hardened police officer in tears. A blanket covered an 8-month old boy who was still strapped into his car seat. The car seat, because of the way the car had been struck, apparently broke the seatbelt that had secured it into the car and was launched out of the back window like a rocket. It landed on the pavement killing the young boy. Sticking out of the blanket covering the body when I arrived was a little pink foot of the dead boy. I too was reduced to tears.

Now think of how many times a police officer must answer a call similar to the one I witnessed, or the one witnessed by police officers Friday.

Hopefully they are few and far between, but if you have any sense of humanity, if you are a parent or have young relatives, then there is no way to forget such a sobering sight as a dead toddler.

Two of them, apparently washed and cleaned and prepared for meeting God in Heaven is a site I pray I never have to witness.

So, forgive me if I do not join the chorus of some who have commented publicly that the police could’ve in some way prevented the murders in Germantown because there was a 911 call the night before the murders at the same location.

I will not hesitate to offer objective criticism where I find it is worth offering, but I cannot find it here.

I can only find empathy for the first responders and the family. People who have never been on a 911 call or ridden with police when they are on one have absolutely no idea what it takes to answer one of those calls.

I pray for those first responders and the family. I move on.

The next story bringing me to wonder about the ability of people to cope in the cold occurs in Rockville.

Here some 53 percent of the voters in the last election decided they did not want to move their elections to coincide with the Presidential elections.

Steve VanGrack the former mayor who sat on the charter revision committee was pushing for this change, as was council member Tom Moore for a variety of reasons. The most obvious reason is because it might bring more people out to vote.

After all 53 percent of the voters who turned out in the last election really only adds up to about 17 percent of the registered voters in Rockville.

So Tom Moore pushing for the change actually makes sense – if you wish to have more people come out to vote. If you don’t, then keeping the status quo makes sense.

But in so much as a democracy counts on participation, doesn’t it follow more people should be involved?

It certainly seems to follow that in this instance VanGrack and Moore might just have the right idea.

Well, I confess it to be just a stray thought as I drive the back roads trying to forget people flipping me off and the plight of innocent children.

There but for the grace of God go us all.

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