Wednesday, November 28, 2007

No More Accidents

Accidents used to happen every once in a while. A person, not watching where he was going, slipped and fell, perhaps breaking an arm. A railing or a step broke because a piece of wood was weak. A tree branch fell on someone's car. A tire picked up a nail in the road, and blew. A driver's foot slipped off the brake pedal and hit the accelerator pedal. All of these things were the result of simple errors or minor neglect, but no one was considered to be at fault.

These days, such occurrences are considered accidents much less often. When something bad happens, someone must be blamed. Someone is "grossly negligent." Somebody intentionally created a dangerous situation. Someone is at fault. Whoever he is, HE MUST PAY. This has created what we call "a litigous society." When what was formally considered to be an accident occurs, we feel compelled to find a person to blame, and to make him pay for the damage or injury. We are encouraged by our insurance companies who never want to pay for anything. We are encouraged by trial lawyers who lust after a share of the payments.

Why can we not step back and accept the fact that bad things happen from time to time? Why can we not accept the fact that the broken railing or step has just become old, or had a defect that the owner was totally unaware of? Why can we not acknowledge that we ourselves may have been careless, or made a mistake that precipitated the damage? Why can we not repair the damage or injury at our own expense, and just move on? Because we are driven by our own anger and our desire for revenge. Our anger, greed, and selfishness are gradually destroying the concept of accidents.

In a gracious and civil society, people are more cautious. They also have more understanding, more forgiveness, more self awareness, and, unfortunately, a few more accidents.

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