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The Buck Stops Here

ResponsibilityOne of us has to go – man or the matatu, public transport minibuses. The number of fatalities on Kenyan roads every year is staggering. The other day, I thought of how many accidents are caused by…. wait… rudeness.

“How about going out for coffee?” I asked my wife and kids on a quiet Friday evening.

“Yeeeeaaaah!” the response sounded rehearsed.

We hopped into the car and drove up the jacaranda-lined driveway leading to the main street. On a normal day, it takes less than 5 minutes to get to the mall nearest home, our regular coffee joint. Not on this day.

Tens of honking matatus had invaded the private street, converting even pedestrian paths on both sides into extra lanes. The rogue drivers scrambled for every available space, as they chocked from the fumes of their over-revved, underserviced engines. Gridlock.

Frustration rose as we watched the commotion helplessly. Time ebbed away. Drivers honked. The touts hung from rickety doors and pounded on bonnets, expressing anger for self-inflicted pain and shouting abuses from frothing mouths. Space enough for a fraction of a car opened up ahead. Adrenalin shot through me. I gripped the steering wheel and accelerated, surging ahead of the derelict matatu that had cut in earlier. I came close to ramming into the classy mountain grey metallic Mercedes Benz Coupe in front.

The kids urged me on, lauding my brevity. I felt triumphant. My wife Cringed. From the rearview mirror, I could tell from the matatu driver’s gestures that he was not amused that I got into “his” space. In a fit, he flashed the headlights, honked, pumped the gas pedal and menacingly swerved to the right. He squeezed in. Pedestrians scampered for safety. The matatu then veered left in front of me, rather aggressively. I braked suddenly. He squeezed back onto the road.

Then I saw the message on a colorful bumper sticker:

“It’s Not My Fault, Blame the Damn System.”

It’s not my fault. Blame the damn system. My foot.

I got thinking. “Could this message summarize the mindset of the drivers on the road that day? That some external factors were to blame for their coarse behaviour?”

     If only the roads were wider…

     If only there weren’t so many roundabouts…

     If only the traffic lights worked…

     If only the policemen were more vigilant…

     If only people didn’t all come to the road at the same time…

     If only…

Does it feel that way in life, sometimes? If only conditions were better… or at least different…

A few months ago, I was awestruck as I watched a video on Nick Vjucic’s life. He was born in Melbourne, Australia without arms and legs. Reality struck early on him that he would never be able to walk, take care of some of his basic needs, or embrace those he loves. Life was difficult growing up as he struggled with loneliness and depression, wondering why he was so different.

Nick however did not let what would have been hold him back from becoming all he can be. “If only…” has never been part of Nick’s vocabulary. In his teens, he refused to allow his physical condition limit him. Today, he is a husband, father, dynamic evangelist, author, musician, actor, radio host and sought-after speaker.

How we respond to the brokenness around us is a choice we make. We, and not the severity of our circumstances, are responsible for the consequences of our choices. No one else is. The buck stops with us.

Copyright ©2015 David Waweru (Republished)

photo credit: Responsibility via photopin (license)

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