Pastoral Perspectives

A Braddell Encounter

It was a Tuesday morning where pastors normally meet for their weekly pastoral meetings. But Pastor Cheng Huat had other matter to attend to and so I was able to meet up with a YAMer who was on leave that day. We arranged to meet at Thomson Plaza for breakfast at 9:30am and I was onto Braddell road at about 9:00am when I noticed cars in front slowing down and signalling to move away from the innermost lane. Then I began to see a police car with siren lights flashing, followed by a blue hatchback with the front bonnet damaged, a bunch of policemen talking to a group of people, the familiar blue tent besides a street lamp, and finally a fallen motorcycle. My heart pounded and my mind spun as I tried to figure what had happened from the flashes of images I saw while negotiating my way out of the jam safely and getting to my destination on time. However, after reaching Thomson Plaza, I forgot about it altogether.

It was only later in the evening after dinner when I was on the sofa with my buddy that the news reported the accident and I remembered. And yes, I thought I caught a glimpse of a plucky girl in red top and blue short among the people there. And so I learnt that she was a 19 years old Polytechnic student who had tried to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the victim. My first response was to praise her for her heroic act while mistaking CPR for mouth to mouth resuscitation. But when I realized what it actually was, I feared how her action might have aggravated the injury and caused the death indirectly. Then I began to ponder and wonder if she knew what she was doing and had checked for chest injury or perhaps she was really clueless and acted on impulse. Finally I asked myself what I would have done. Honestly speaking I wouldn’t know what to do to save the victim. I guess if I were there and then, I would probably be directing traffic.

Now, as one would expect, people began talking about the incident on social media, sharing publicly much of the things that I had already thought of privately. And as one would also expect, they are always split on two major camps. There were many who praised her and there were others who were not so kind towards her. In a way, those who chided her for performing CPR and putting the victim at risk were not totally wrong, for we are often advised not to move accident victim who exhibits physical injury unnecessarily. But even so, I suppose there is a better way to express it constructively in order to educate or inform than to say it so bluntly and instil guilt. So what have I learnt from this Braddell Encounter?

Well, it is always easy to hide behind social media and say anything without caring much about anything. I suppose if we have to appear in person to say whatever we want to express, we will think twice and consider the consequences thrice before saying it. And I believe the society will surely become more gracious and heartening indeed. But alas, I wonder how the girl would have felt upon hearing those unfriendly comments. Therefore, it was good that the victim’s family members were thankful to her and that SCDF had commended her. But let this not be true of us Christians, i.e. to hide behind pseudo names and say un-nice (for lack of better word) things. I have seen this happening far too often recently, all due to CHC, with many, Christians included, gunning for blood (for lack of better phrase). How would others see us and view the gospel? And this is certainly not what Paul meant when he told the Corinthians to excel in speech (2 Cor 8:7), or to Timothy to set before the believers an example in speech (1 Tim 4:12), or to Titus to show sound speech that cannot be condemned (Titus 2:8). And please do not tell me that printed text is not the same as speech. If social media were available back then, I would love to hear what Paul had to say about it. There may be genuine needs for us to explain, correct or clarify certain matter but it does not excuse us from irreverent babble that will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene (2 Tim 2:16-17).

Now back to the Braddell incident, I was taken aback by how one person criticized the young girl for her action. Our thoughts were similar, i.e. that it might not have been wise to perform the CPR, but our tones were vastly different. And I wondered why. Well, I figured it could be that I was there to catch a glimpse and it added an extra emotional dimension. And so I learnt also that another danger of social media is that it allows us to easily express what our minds think but not necessarily what our hearts feel when we simply read of certain issue and comment on it without having encounter or experience it for ourselves. And chances are that we may have to eat our own words later on. Therefore my advice to us all is to spare a thought with our heart first before we are tempted to post anything right after reading something.

Finally I remembered the blue hatchback had suffered front bonnet damage and so my initial assessment was that it had crashed onto the motorcycle. Therefore I was quite surprised to learn that the motorcyclist had apparently lost control, skidded and crashed onto the lamppost. I searched for news of it and found that there was indeed a blue hatchback at the scene but it did not appear to be damaged and no collision was reported. So was it the same blue hatch back that I saw? Was I dreaming then or what? And why was the lamp holder left dangling high up from its post when the damage should be at the lower end? Perhaps it had already been damaged by something else much earlier before and the motorcyclist might have saw it and tried to swerve to avoid but skidded as a result. I pondered and wondered again and honestly I really don’t know. We can all look at the same evidences and come up with various theories. What we really need are eye-witnesses’ accounts. So did Jesus really die on the cross and resurrect three days later? Scholars have looked at the same evidences and come up with various theories. As for eye-witnesses, they were willing to risk flesh and shed blood to testify it.