About Me

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My interests include veganism and vegetarianism, health, ethics, politics and culture, media, and the environment. I have three kids; I teach college part-time, study piano and attempt to garden. I knit. I blog on just about anything, but many posts are related to my somewhat pathetic quest to eat better, be more mindful of the environment, and be a more responsible news consumer. Sometimes I write about parenting, but, like so many Mommy bloggers, my kids have recently told me not to. :) Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Finding Fault

My friend was in a car accident a week ago. Since then, no fewer than five attorneys have contacted her, urging her to press charges and telling her how happy they'd be to represent her.

She never contacted them.

Though her car is now (her words) a "lemon," it was not damaged enough to warrant getting a new one. And though she suffered a minor injury (a hurt finger), she's not leaning toward seeking money for it.

Is she wild and crazy? Or is the American legal system nuts (at least where she lives)?

I vote for the latter.

But let's have a little fun here. What could I sue somebody for today? What has been done wrong to me today?

Well, for starters, one of my tires went flat today on the way home from the dentist's office. I took it to my car dealership (I was nearby), and they fixed the tire for free. Turns out there was a nail in it. Hmmm...can I blame the Home Depot parking lot? Or the local construction crew? I'm sure it's somebody's fault that the nail was in the road. It certainly wasn't my fault; I must need to sue somebody!

OK, maybe you're not buying that one. How about this: we live in a relatively new (eight-year-old) house. Already, the paint is peeling on the outside and a tree root has grown into our sprinkler line. We're fixing both problems now -- on a new house!! The problems aren't our fault!! So, should we sue the former neighbors (they should have planted the tree farther away from the sprinkler lines)? Or the construction company (they should have used higher quality paint, or painted in different weather, or primed better)?

Maybe you're still not convinced. Here's another: just about a year ago, we bought a rather expensive elliptical machine. We both like to exercise. As I write, the repair guy is here, fixing it for the fourth time this year. Obviously, the thing is a piece of crap. (Had I read Consumer Reports before I bought the machine, I would have known this.) But still -- when you buy something and use it as intended, it's not supposed to fall apart at all during the first year, let alone four times. Who should I sue? The store that sold it to us? The company itself? Maybe the previous repairpeople? Perhaps each of them made a mistake and made future breakdowns more likely. Sure in hell -- the breakdowns aren't my fault!

There's plenty of blame to go around. Unfortunately, there are also vultures out there, all too happy to make some money trying to prove exactly where the blame lies.

Maybe we should remind ourselves more often of the meaning of the word, "accident:" it's something nobody intends to happen. It feels wrong to blame somebody for something that they didn't intend. (I do, however, recognize that sometimes the consequences are grave enough that, actually, it does make sense to make someone pay for causing accidents.)

Let's also remember the word, "forgiveness." It means letting go of the blame you want to place on another person (or yourself). I'll skip going all religious on you and just say this: when you accept the ups and downs of your life and skip obsessing about who to blame, you find you have a whole lot more time to enjoy life in the first place.

And isn't that the point?


  1. My experience with the legal system tells me three things: 1) Though we may all be "equal under the law" the more money you have the better justice you tend to receive. (Better justice meaning one's desired outcome.) 2) Most conflicts are better resolved by the parties involved. 3) When in conflict with the government, a good lawyer is worth more than his/her weight in gold.

  2. It's a scary world we live in; if we do anything wrong(which is normal) we run the risk of losing everything--because many people want MONEY. They don't care how they get it; it's supposed to be the magic answer to life and happiness.


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