Thursday, March 7, 2013

So Sue Me

You can tell we are a people who are arrogant about our woundedness (and undeserving-to-be-wounded nature) by how ridiculously busy our civil court system is.  We sue each other at the drop of a hat, taking our beef to court because we think we're getting shortchanged any other way.

After a gunman broke into an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, the family of a slain 6-year-old filed suit against the school district for not protecting their daughter.

Passengers aboard the crippled Carnival cruise ship refused the company's generous atonement offer so as to preserve their right to sue...then promptly sued Carnival for the disastrous adventure they were forced to endure.

We don't want to be wounded.  We don't think we deserve to be wounded.  And if we are wounded, someone is going to pay - whether it's their fault or not.  Whether they've already offered to pay or not.

And see, that's the problem.  We think that every time we're wounded, someone is at fault.  There are no accidents.  No random mysteries of the universe.  Someone should have always foreseen, and always prevented, pain wherever we find it, and if they failed to....they should pay.

In 2008, I slipped on a slick patch of sidewalk in an ice storm and seriously damaged my shoulder from the landing.  I went back into the building (I had been on my way out) and explained what happened to the lady working the front desk.  I told her they might want to put a bit more salt down out there, and I turned to leave.  She was panicked - was I ok?  No.  My left arm was shooting with stingers, but I smiled at her and told her I just wanted her to know so that no one else got hurt.

Some argue I should have sued!  They ought to take better care of their property than that!  But the truth is that most of their sidewalks were well-salted and the area in which I had fallen was sort of small ramp built in where I had just happened to step awkwardly as I was side-cutting the sidewalk to get to my car.  It wasn't their fault I fell; it wasn't my fault.  It was just one of those things.

The family suing in Newtown - they claim they don't want the money they're asking for.  They really just want changes to be made so that other children are protected in their schools.  But that gunman shot through the door to get into that school.  He killed the staff in the front office that stood between him and the children.  The same parents would be outraged if we locked our children down.  So where's the blame?  Dead, with the gunman.  With all reasonable security, the school had done its best; it's not their fault a man with an axe to grind and bullets to waste decided to tear through their security to get at their children.  It's one of those things that just happens.

Carnival cruise lines offered refunds to all of their passengers.  They added bonus cash, money toward a future trip, and transportation home from the wounded ship once they reached shore.  They were sincerely sorry for what had happened, something no one had seen coming, and wanted to make amends for the experience.  But people rejected the generous package only to turn around and sue.  Does the court make Carnival more at fault?  Less at fault?  Do the courts make compensation somehow more satisfying?  No.  It just ties things up.  Because accidents happen, and Carnival did their best to make amends for torturous amenities.  It's not a cover up.  It's not a scam.  It just happens sometimes.

Things happen sometimes.

And I think we need to be a people with more grace for those things.  We weren't given a perfect world; we inherited a fallen one.  We weren't promised that things wouldn't fall apart; they already have.  God never said this is a place not to suffer; He guaranteed there would be suffering here.  God told us things would happen.  God told us thinks would break.  God told us we would hurt.  God told us this whole thing was falling to pieces, us included, and that's part of the package.  It's how things are.

Our security does not come from a court system that puts everything back together, that divvies out justice and money in order to appease the woundedness we suffer.  Our security comes from knowing we have a God who promised things would fall apart then promised never to lose the pieces.  Our security comes from knowing that God protects us, defends us, redeems and restores us.  Our security comes from knowing God's got this - He's got every little thing that just happens.  And every little thing is going to be ok.

Because God's got the pieces, and though it's hard sometimes to feel all of our cracks, He'll never lose a single one.

I'm dismayed sometimes at how much we think this world owes us beyond what God has promised and beyond what God has provided.  The world doesn't owe us anything, wounded or not, and there's not one dime I would take that would make sense (get it?  cents?) of anything that happens down here.  Stuff just is.  Let it be.

Then if you really have a beef with something, take it to God.  Run to God when your heart aches.  Journey to Him with all the beef you have with this broken, fallen world He's put you in...and offer that meat as a sacrifice on His altar.  It's the only good and holy thing to do with it.

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