In the 1993 movie The Fugitive, (I still remember the old TV show!) one of my favorite scenes is in a tunnel. It happens when the FBI’s “Big Dog,” played by Tommy Lee Jones, encounters fugitive Dr. Kimball (Harrison Ford) before the tunnel’s end leads to a “sure death” of a waterfall. This first face to face encounter has Kimball with a gun pointed at Big Dog Agent Gerard and saying, “I didn’t kill my wife.” And in a classic, unscripted, and matter of fact moment, Big Dog replies… “I don’t care!”
There is something haunting and unsettling about this exchange. We who know the story WANT Gerard to care. Because Kimball is innocent. Yet we also know his job is to bring Kimball in and let justice take its course.
Justice. Caring. Lives shattered. Those three elements also come together in a very troubling story being played out in recent news. Here’s the headline that the New York Times pinned to a report from last week, “GM Response to a Fatal Flaw Was to Shrug.” Whoa. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/06/business/gm-response-to-a-fatal-flaw-was-to-shrug.html?emc=edit_th_20140606&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=68618012&_r=0
Last week, General Motors turned over to federal regulators and lawmakers an internal report on what made some of their cars shutdown and disable air bags. In turn, it’s believed this has led to a number of deaths—at minimum 13. As the Times would note, this story “is a tale of nonchalance, ignorance, and incompetence with tragic consequences.”
The document is 325 pages. Mainly comprised of a chronology of inaction. The report compiled by a former U.S. attorney notes dozens of pivotal moments that resulted in no action.
What you get in the full report is simply that there were GM employees who were aware of the problem. And it appears also aware of the consequences. But took no official action to call their company to account. It comes across as a testimony of people who might have heard the phrase, “This could kill people!” And by their willful inaction, might as well have responded, “I don’t care.” At least…enough to DO SOMETHING.
Now General Motors is in the process of making settlements. Victims or their families would receive between $100,000 and up into the millions. Many would argue money is never a real consolation. And it certainly never replaces someone actually caring.
But here’s the dirty little secret. Millions of us are just like GM. I did say “us.” Jesus was bringing this to our attention in very uncomfortable ways during his time on earth. Read the story of the Good Samaritan. Or the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. Or his comments to the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23! Blistering. It’s all about hardness of hearts. Ours.
There are many verses in the Bible about hardened hearts. But this one stands out today: “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.” Proverbs 28:13-14 (ESV)
Confess. Forsake. Obtain mercy. No need to be a fugitive from God’s grace.
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Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays, 4-6 pm on AM 1160 WYLL in Chicago. Check the web for WYLL and the app for AM 1160 to listen live. Or by podcast.