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The Cost of Carelessness

The sound is so common that no one ever even looks in that direction any more.  Car companies thought by adding car alarms as standard equipment that car thefts would plummet since everyone would respond to the sound of the car horn wailing bursts of the horn’s blowing.  No one really considered that there would be so many times that a car horn sounded by accident because of some wrong action of the driver that the sound would eventually be ignored.  Today, the frequency of hearing a car alarm go off is so common, few ever respond to the sound.

The rate of crimes of every kind continues to be far too high.   Our culture does not focus the blame on the wrong doer.  Rather, we want to sue someone that must be to blame for the person acting in that manner. Through the determination to find someone to blame, we fail to enforce correction on the wrong doer but rather look for some “reason” that others were to blame for the person doing what he/she did.  Lack of personal responsibility will cause more harm than we have time or money to cure.  The problem is our hearts are wicked.  Our thinking is often skewed and cloudy.  And, our behavior can lead to great harm with no one to blame but ourselves.

When the Federal troops occupied Cheraw, South Carolina, the Confederates left so much gun powder behind that the Union troops decided to dump most of it in a little creek. Some of the Union troops were looking for some entertainment so they scooped up handfuls of the powder and carried it to their cooking fires a few hundred yards away, where they exploded it amid much shouting and laughter. With each handful they grew more careless, and left numerous crisscrossing trails of powder running back to the ravine.

Sergeant Theodore Upson of the 100th Indiana had just started his coffee boiling when he saw “a little flash of powder running along the ground.” A moment later he noticed that the powder flashes had multiplied and were running in all directions. Someone yelled, “Look out for the magazine!”

Upson and his comrades “made some pretty quick moves” in putting as much space between themselves and the creek bed as the burning powder trails would allow. “Then there was a tremendous explosion,” Upson recorded. “The dirt and stones flew in every direction.” The ground shook for miles. The force of the blast destroyed several houses and shattered nearly every window in town. A storm of shell and shrapnel rained down for a half-mile in every direction. One officer and three enlisted men were killed as a result of the blast, and more than a dozen were wounded.

Rumor had it that Sherman at first believed the explosion was an act of sabotage, and was on the verge of issuing orders to burn the rest of the town and execute the mayor in retaliation. He relented, however, when he learned that it was the carelessness of his own men that had caused the devastation. 

Don’t play with the fire of temptation. It may seem fun for a while but eventually it will burn you and others. (Prov. 6:27-28 NIV) Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? (1 Tim 6:11 NIV) But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.  (From Mark L. Bradley, The Battle of Bentonville: Last Stand in the Carolinas, pg. 67-69).