Day 107: Joshua Prager: In search of the man who broke my neck

Aged 19, journalist Joshua Prager was on a bus in Israel when it was hit by a truck at full speed. His neck snapped back, his shoes flew off and Prager flew also. When he landed he was a quadriplegic; later, this was downgraded to hemiplegia as weakness remained in one side of his body.
In this eloquent and moving TED talk, Prager describes how he met the man who caused his accident 21 years later. He flew to Jerusalem, drove a car around the same corner where the truck had bore down on the minibus in which he sat and went in search of a man named Abed.
Prager had read the police report a year after the accident. He tried to contact Abed then, but the man changed his number. He learned that Abed had 27 prior driving violations and had been almost nonchalant after the crash that killed one person and broke two necks. As time went on, he became a journalist and author, writing successful stories which often mirrored his own situation, with characters whose lives had been inexplicably changed. As he was completing his book, ‘ Half Life,’ he decided he needed to hear the man who’d broken his neck say two words; ‘I’m sorry.’
Prager didn’t hear these words. In the end, the man he met spoke about the accident in great detail without taking much personal responsibility. He admitted that he too had suffered, as before the crash he was a godless man. When Prager confronted him about his previous driving convictions he told the journalist that he’d once done 60km/hour in a 40km zone. Prager concluded that he was neither a bad nor a good man, but a limited one.
Prager went through a myriad of emotions on his journey. He thought of the life he should have led, his youthful and fit body, the man he was going to see. He never got a chance to say all of the things he wanted to Abed. Bad things happen and it’s fine to admit that this sucks, but we must see the good in the world; in friendships, community, work and more. In the end, our mandate is clear and it is to rise above bad fortune.

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