It happened so fast I hardly knew that anything happened at all. It was one of those dark nights when everything seemed so far away. For the moment the whole world was inside the car I was driving. The taillight of the car in front of me was the only reminder of the real and bigger world just outside the windshield. This did not have much real meaning at 75 MPH.
In an instant it was over. The brake lights flashed, the car swerved, and as I shot past I could see something floundering on the side of the road.
We stopped behind the other car and walked back. The white-tailed deer lying on the side of the road was more scared than injured. The driver of the other car raised the pistol he was holding, shot the deer, turned and walked back to his car. “Once they’re hurt it’s impossible to help them,” he said as he walked past me. “It’s better to shoot them than to leave them like that.”
I felt empty in the presence of the waste and utter cruelty of the event. The injury was not life threatening and was certainly treatable. The question was not the injury but the wildness of the animal. It was simply easier to shoot her and be done with it. Twenty years of carrying a badge had taught me that you do not argue with a man with a pistol in his hand.
As I drove on through the night I reflected upon how we all are much like the unknown driver with the gun. How often in the name of religion do we find it to be easier to shoot the wounded than to love and care for them? How convenient it is to leave the forgiving to God.