The Bus Driver’s Gift

Our default way of being-in-the-world is to deny our freedom. Which freedom?  The freedom to choose.  Whilst I can talk about this philosophically, I prefer to point this out using a story.

The Bus Driver’s Gift

One afternoon a bus driver was taking 40 children home from school. As the bus made its way down a steep grade, the brakes failed. The driver was unable to steer the bus to the left because of a high embankment or to the right because of a steep cliff.

As the bus hurtled down the hill, the driver recalled that there was a narrow gate at the bottom which led into a field. He decided to try to steer the bus through the gate and into the field, figuring it would eventually come to a safe stop.  He hoped that no cars or other obstacles would get in his way before he got to the gate.

When the bus reached the bottom of the hill, the driver saw the gate approaching fast. But to his horror, he noticed a small child sitting on the gate, waiving at the bus.

It was too late to change plans now. If the driver tried to avoid the gate, 40 children would die. He cried out in anguish as the bus slammed directly into the game. The innocent child died instantly in the collision, but that bus and all of its passengers were saved.

Emergency vehicles were the first to arrive on the scene, followed shortly by relieved parents and grandparents. Many of them wanted to show their appreciation and gratitude to the driver who had kept the bus under control long enough to save their children. But the driver was nowhere to be found. They asked the police officer where he had gone.

“They’ve taken him to the hospital,” the officer said. “He’s suffering from severe shock.”

“Well that’s understandable, ” they replied.

“No, you don’t understand, ” said the officer. “You see, that little boy on the fence was his own son.”

To be human is to be be free, condemned to choose

We play little, we find excuses, we pretend that we are merely ‘victims’ or ‘passengers’ in the game of life. What this story does is to remind us of a truth that we’d rather not see nor face up to. Why?

Because with this truth, comes responsibility: responsibility for the way our life is, responsibility for the way our community is, responsibility for the way our organisations are, responsibility with the way life is.

Stuff happens, that is simply the way the universe works.  Sometimes, even often, we don’t get to choose what happens.  And always we get to choose how we will respond to that which the universe puts our way.  This is the essential truth that this story brings alive for me.

Author: Maz Iqbal

Experienced management consultant working at the intersection of strategy, customer, and technology. Combine a tendency to think strategically with a penchant for getting my hands dirty at the coalface of implementation.

2 thoughts on “The Bus Driver’s Gift”

  1. Reminded me of the quote:
    Promise Yourself

    To be so strong that nothing
    can disturb your peace of mind.
    To talk health, happiness, and prosperity
    to every person you meet.

    To make all your friends feel
    that there is something in them
    To look at the sunny side of everything
    and make your optimism come true.

    To think only the best, to work only for the best,
    and to expect only the best.
    To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
    as you are about your own.

    To forget the mistakes of the past
    and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
    To wear a cheerful countenance at all times
    and give every living creature you meet a smile.

    To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
    that you have no time to criticize others.
    To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear,
    and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

    To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
    not in loud words but great deeds.
    To live in faith that the whole world is on your side
    so long as you are true to the best that is in you.”
    ― Christian D. Larson
    Reading your blog as brought awareness to the various subtle choice points in everday life.

    Like

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