When a tragedy occurs, our response is to ask, "Why?" By asking why, we search for the reason that a similar tragedy could never happen to us. We seek to distance ourselves from that possibility.
By prosecuting Paul Wayment, the legal system intended to teach him — and us — a lesson. What they did instead was to vilify him and set the rest of us, in our minds, a safe distance apart from the tragedy that occurred. Although we could feel FOR him, we no longer felt LIKE him.
The truth is we are a lot more like Paul than we'd like to think. Whenever you leave your small child alone you are like him: a parent who makes a bad choice. The outcome of your choice may not be tragic. But you have still not made the choice that is best for your child. And every time you say, "That could never happen to me" you up the chances that it will.
Paul Wayment was like the rest of us. A parent who tries and sometimes falls short. Will we learn from his fall? Or just try to distance ourselves from it? Will we protect our small children? Can we understand how much they depend on our judgment for their safety? Could we live without them?
Have we learned nothing from little Gage? Do NOT leave your young children alone. Not at home, not in the car, not even for a minute. If we could learn one thing from this heartbreaking story it should be that the price to pay for doing so is much too high.