HitandRun

The tragic hit and run accident of a friend recently awakened me to the severity of the hit and run crisis in Los Angeles.

Damian Kevitt is a Scientology minister. He’s been a spiritual counselor for our church for 20 years. He and his wife were on a Sunday morning bike ride in February 2013 when a hit-and-run nearly cost him his life.

damian kevitt, hit and run, finish the ride,

The man who hit Damian knew what he did. Damian landed on the hood of his car. It is impossible for the man not to have seen him. Instead of stopping to help, the driver stopped short and then gunned the engine, throwing Damian off and under the car, running over him and dragging him 600 meters down the on-ramp and onto the freeway.

In a video interview with Sweet Ride USA, Damian describes his ordeal and talks about the moral crisis the hit-and-run epidemic represents:

“When you actually impact with someone, when you have a collision with a bicyclist, a pedestrian or another car and you don’t stop…the collision is an accident. No one intends to do that. When you run you are now a criminal. That is a crime. That is a conscious decision to run. That is not an accident. That’s someone who’s being insane and cowardly.”

In 2013, there were more than 21,000 hit-and-run crimes in Los Angeles.
This resulted in some 1,200 injuries and 41 deaths.

Some years ago when I was in college, I had a similar bike accident to Damian’s. The man who hit me was uninsured, but he made sure I was OK, even tracking me down at the hospital to check up on me.

I ended up with a pin in the leg he broke—comparable to what Damian would have suffered if his assailant had stopped at the first impact.

Instead, Damian lost his right leg, ended up with 20 broken bones, road burns over 70 percent of his body and an extremely long and arduous recovery.

I agree with Damian. I believe the hit-and-run crisis is, first and foremost, a moral crisis. And I believe it is up to each of us to re-instill basic, humane values into society.

In his article An Analysis and Comparison of its Religious Systems and Doctrines, the late Dr. Bryan R. Wilson, Ph.D., Emeritus Fellow of Oxford University, England, wrote, “It is sometimes suggested that it is a characteristic of religion to prescribe a moral code.”

The Ten Commandments, The Eight-Fold Path… most religions have a simple statement of the most important morals.

The decline in morality in our society appears to be parallel with the decline in religious membership. Findings of the Pew Research Center in 2013 noted that a third of U.S. adults under the age of 30 don’t identify with a religion. Similar statistics hold true in Europe.

Noting this trend in the 1980’s, Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard saw the need for a nonreligious moral code anyone could adopt and use no matter their religious beliefs or affiliations or lack of them. It is called The Way to Happiness and it is based entirely on common sense.

During his months in the hospital, Damian used The Way to Happiness to come to terms with what had happened to him. He decided to turn his personal tragedy into something positive—to use it to raise awareness of hit-and-run crime. He decided to get back on his bike and finish the ride that nearly killed him and use this to galvanize support for making the streets of Los Angeles safe for pedestrians and bicyclists.

This weekend he led some 700 cyclists in a bike ride called Finish the Ride. It followed and completed the ride he began that morning in February 2013.

In the gift bag every cyclist took home from the race were copies of The Way to Happiness with a Finish the Ride logo on the cover.

I believe we can re-instill the values into society, one person at a time. And that we and our society will survive to the degree we do so.

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