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Imagine that you and I are in a horrific car accident. Our car is “T-boned” on the driver’s side. We roll down an embankment and land topside down. Our vehicle is in the ditch, making it hard for other drivers to see that we are in trouble. Finally, a police officer sees the wreck, stops, and comes down the embankment.
The officer is able to open the passenger side door with no problem. He helps you out and you stand up. He asks if you are okay, and you say that you are fine. You both stoop to look into the front seat. I am crumpled up on the upside-down roof of the car. You both can tell I am badly hurt. There is blood matted in my hair, very noticeable fractures, and massive head trauma. The officer asks dispatch to send a medic unit immediately. You look at the officer in disbelief and exclaim, “Hey, my friend is fine! She just needs to get over it. Look at me. I came out unscathed. She is just a faker that wants attention.”
You crawl back into the car and repeat to me what you said to the officer, “Hey, get up! You’re fine. C’mon, look at me; I’m fine. Get over yourself. It’s a little car accident. You act like you’re hurt or something.”
The “accident” in this illustration is like the fall-out from Gothard’s teachings. The “car” that has been T-boned is carrying ATI families, eagerly steering them toward promised Spiritual holiness through righteous living. One family—one student, perhaps—is horrifically injured by unproved teachings. The injuries are numerous—some more obvious than others. Another survivor of the same accident has escaped nearly unscathed. The injured victim needs help desperately. But the uninjured survivor has been well-trained—we do not complain, we suffer in silence, we get over our pain, we don’t make accusations that could reflect badly on another. And so she dismisses the pain of her fellow-passenger, encourages her to “get over it,” and tells outsiders who might sympathize that the pain is irrelevant. Possibly even falsified.
The injured passenger does not wish ill on those who survived unscathed. In fact, such pain could never be wished on anyone. But oh, how grateful she would be to be rescued, to be understood, to be validated and cared for and nurtured. We would ask our readers to consider this analogy as a plea for consideration—do you want to be the passenger who asks her injured friend to “get over it,” or rather, the officer who seeks to save before the injured is lost forever? Will you seek to help or to hinder our healing process?
A former student relayed the following story:
In my line of work, it has been said that you will experience an accident scene that you will never forget, and that you will take it to your grave.
I was 23 years old. A call went out around 10:30 p.m. for a motorcycle versus van. When we arrived on scene, we immediately called for a helicopter. Moving down the embankment we saw the first victim lying on his side moaning. We found the second victim farther down. It was a female, and she was barely responsive. My Lieutenant asked what I needed, and then helped me package her up for the flight to the trauma center.
I did CPR on the victim for 20 minutes, covering the trooper and myself with blood during our flight to the hospital. The hospital’s chief of staff took my patient, and I stood in the bay watching them throw in chest tubes and fill cylinder after cylinder, CT’s, opened up in the bay—and then everything came to a halt. The doctor came over to me, grabbed my shoulders and said, “Damn fine splint job, damn fine job. But she had a ruptured aorta. No amount of splinting or CPR would have saved her. She had injuries no one could have seen with the naked eye.”
For those who came out of ATI unscathed: praise God! You have no idea how blessed you are that your family didn’t fall for Bill Gothard and his Advanced Training Institute (ATI) hook, line, and sinker.
On the flip side: you never know if you will one day be in need of some sort of compassion, or a life-line thrown out to you during a major crisis in your life. Be careful how you judge or dismiss others, because one day you might find yourself in need of help in your recovery process, even if nothing appears to be wrong with you on the outside.