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  • benjaminnewman01

Mod. 4 - How Does Worldview Shape Your Leadership

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

Less than two hours after our first call as a MACL cohort, three nights into life in a new apartment, my partner and I were awoken by a car accident just outside the building. We both went to see what happened and discovered that a reckless driver had rear ended my parked car with such force that the impact pushed my car off of the street onto the sidewalk, knocked over part of a tree, and hit the parked car in front of me.

Seeing the extent of the damage, I immediately realized that my car was probably totaled and that there was no point in reacting emotionally. Over the years I’ve developed an ability to respond to crisis situations without letting my emotions get the best of me by switching into a pragmatic and protective mode. I knew I needed to make sure everyone was okay, that I had photos of the damage, and that I had all of the information needed to file a claim.

The driver of the car that rear ended mine was a Black gentleman who was shaken up, but was not injured. He immediately handed me his license and apologized profusely while on speakerphone with a family member who was getting his insurance information. It was clear to me that he had been drinking, though to what extent I was unsure, and from the extent of the damage to my car that he was driving over the 25 mph speed limit. It was at this exact moment that my worldview came into practice. My mind was still processing the emotional space that had been established during our cohort’s Google Hangout earlier in the evening. I recalled how many of the stories that were shared had moments in which a choice had to be made that would reflect their moral compass. Coming back to the present scene, I saw a scenario play out in my mind in which I would call 911 and a police officer would arrive to see a scene in which a White man was the victim and a Black man was the offender. Since he was at fault and under the influence, it would be very easy for me and the attending officer to ethically and legally justify whatever charges and subsequent consequences the man might face from the law. At that moment I made the choice not to call 911.

My worldview values Life > Property and therefore I had to consider all of the elements that would impact the lives of the people involved with greater importance than the property that had been damaged or lost. First, I made sure that no one was injured. Had someone been hurt, including the driver himself, there would be no other choice than to call 911 to get immediate medical attention. Second, the man did not drive off or make excuses for what happened. As soon as I said I was the owner of the vehicle, he handed me his license and apologized. Third, realizing the man had been drinking and driving, I knew the potential legal consequences he could face within the American criminal justice system that treats men of color, particularly Black men, far worse than White men, this man could receive a punishment far worse than what the situation merited.

While making this decision, my partner accurately pointed out that while it was very kind not to call the cops, from an insurance perspective I would be left unprotected if I didn’t have a police report or witness statement. The driver could very easily deny responsibility after the fact and it would be his word against mine. Without either of those documents my claim could be massively delayed or worse thrown out. In this moment I realized yet another insidious layer of our justice system. In order for me to protect myself legally and financially, I would have to potentially inflict harm on another person.

As luck would have it, right as I was figuring out my next steps, a patrolling officer drove by. He saw the scene and pulled over to make sure everything was okay. He had clearly been expecting to have to assuage a difficult situation or calm people down because he was shocked to see how calm we all were. The officer asked me if I had called 911 and I said no. As soon as he realized I didn’t want to escalate the situation, he expressed support for my choice but said he would need to call his sergeant to figure out what to do.This was the moment I became nervous. The way in which the officer described the scene to his sergeant would determine whether or not potential harm would be caused. After a brief phone call, the officer hung up, came back to us and said “if you all exchanged information, then I just need to write a brief report of what happened for our records.” Since no one mentioned anything about drinking and driving, the officer wrote a report saying that the driver was distracted and briefly lost control of his car which caused him to rear end mine. No charges were filed. The officer gave me a copy of the report for the insurance claim, helped me and the driver secure a tow truck for both of our cars, and after the cars were towed away, drove away. My partner and I then said an awkward goodnight to the driver who had arranged a ride home, and went back inside our apartment.

Processing everything that had just happened over a much needed cocktail, I felt an immense sense of relief. Since my worldview values Life > Property, I wasn’t even thinking about the fact that I would need to handle the logistics of the insurance claim and purchasing a new car along with everything else that was already on my very busy plate. The amount of time and funds that it takes to handle those details pale in comparison to the amount of time the driver may have lost if he had been charged with a crime. My conscious is clear because my worldview that values Life > Property enabled me to make choices that mitigated the potential for undue harm, acknowledged the value of the driver’s choice to accept responsibility, and with some luck from the universe and an attractive police officer, allowed me to protect myself to be able to file an insurance claim and ultimately find a new car.

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