Last night was odd. A friend’s son had a painful emergency procedure at a local Chiang Mai hospital. After midnight I was driving the friend’s wife back to the rest of their kids and sitter. Right before we got to the hotel a motorcycle with two young men cut off another motorcycle and began beating a man who had been riding it. I stopped the car and got out, unsure of how aggressively to handle the situation. Recently I have been teaching on the intersection of justice and mercy in humility before God and was keenly aware of too many variables.
Who were these guys fighting? Is this the continuation of something previous? Are there more? Is my responsibility to get involved or to stay with the lady I’m escorting back? If I step in, do I do it cautiously or decisively? Is it worth risking a knife being pulled, or even being thrown in jail if things go sour? How much danger is the guy in who is getting beaten by the other two?
I ended up walking toward them telling them to stop, but doing so much more slowly and cautiously than I historically would have done. The result was mixed. The guy getting the beating ended up with a dozen more kicks and punches than he would have received if I would have intervened violently. The attackers were able to get away when I did pull the victim from them and try and help him. By then other Thais showed up and began to help. That is when I left him with the others and finished taking the lady to her kids.
What I was left with was the uncertainty of caution. My mind kept picturing how to take out the two assailants, and how it would have protected the victim better and brought judgment to the seemingly drug deranged attackers. Then my mind swung to things going badly and being asked later: “what were you thinking?”
The intensity of the episode made me think of how my life in so many ways has been crowded, and subsequently clouded, by endless mitigating ‘what if’s. In my concern not to make a big mistake I have become vulnerable to dangerous delays which allow more damage than a quick good decision, though admittedly less than a quick poor decision.