Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Crankypants the idealist

Sitting at court today I came to a conclusion. I want to live in a world where lawyers aren't necessary.

I realize that it's the second oldest profession so it's not likely I'll be unemployed anytime soon, but it would be nice to live in a world where people didn't beat up people they love, argue over what debts are joint and use the kids as pawns to try to hurt each other. All the child protection stuff is pretty crappy too - why not have a world where people didn't neglect their children, and, come to think of it, a word where we need an entire agency to make sure people were good to their children. I really want a world where people didn't take what wasn't theirs, where people repaid money they were loaned, and returned things they were lent. Where people didn't commit criminal offences against other, where we help each other instead of finding ways to get costs orders against each other and really make them squirm.

Sure, there are some areas of law that are fairly innocuous; but overall, much of law is about people who have been somehow wronged and helping them get out from under that wrong. That to me is just sad - that we make an industry out of helping people who have been taken advantage of somehow (a subjective perspective, I know). I'm sad that there needs to be an entire industry to help people in those situations.

I know it'll never happen, but I think it would be nice to live in a world that didn't need people who do my job. Ok, rant over, I'll take off the cranky pants.


Sara said...

It would be nice...

but the reason it will never happen? Because people aren't generally good. We don't naturally just follow the rules put in place by our society.

Seriously, give me a person who claims they haven't committed a criminal /quasi criminal offence, or a person who hasn't committed some kind of civil actionable wrong and I'll show you a liar.

We are all naturally crappy to one another, to some extent. That's why we need cops, the CAS, lawyers and eventually judges.

And the biggest problem? The subjectivity of it all. The people who are BEING crappy to one another always seem to justify it away in their own heads. People decide it's okay to speed cause they're in a hurry. It's okay to steal cable cause cable is a big faceless corporation. No problem lying on taxes, you're only hurting the government. Or really, what constitutes mistreatment of our kids?

Even when people split up... they seem incapable of being nice to one another. Greed... some would say. Self preservation, others would say... love for their kids, a third group would say.

Whatever the motivation though, people are, for the most part, incapable of being generally good. We're all faced with a hundreds of decisions to make a day.. and on many occasions, knowing full well the difference between right and wrong, we all choose "wrong" a whole lot.

elane1958 said...

Oh boy, how jaded. But, I suppose you're right. However, I don't believe that all people are bad. It's only the bad ones that get the attention, make the news, makes it appears that "everybody" is bad. Being lawyers, you're both exposed to the worse that society has to offer. I believe that there is a lot of good in MOST people. However, those people don't get the attention because they're are pretty much going on with their lives and staying out of trouble. Therefore, they go unnoticed.

As crappy as the world can be, it is a good place too. Look at when the tsusami (did I spell that right?) hit there in Indonesia. The world responded with a lot of caring, love, concern, MONEY. When Hurricane Katrina hit the U.S. a couple months back, same thing. When the earthquake in Pakistan...ditto. I think most people want to be good. But, then, we have the criminally insane, the nutcases, those that just don't care who they rob from, hurt, kill, etc. and, again, they get the attention.

We need the cops to protect us from these people. The lawyers are there to defend the accused a right to be innocent unless proven guilty. (forgive me, I don't know what the CAS are Sara).

As for speeding, ummmmm, I'm one of those obnoxious people you have the misfortune of following on the roads and I have my cruise control set at the speed limit. I've only gotten 1 ticket in my life, 19 yrs ago. I deserved it and I promised myself that it would NEVER happen again. It won't.

Heather said...

First, I'll say I was making an entirely hypothetical world filled with entirely hypothetical people who are inherently good, and I realize it's safe to say that'll never happen. Come to think of it, that world might be a pretty boring place, though it seemed like it might be a good idea last night. Stupid people who try to do bad things often provide hours of laughter.

I don't think people are inherently good or bad, but we all live somewhere between the two based on our experiences, brain chemistry and the social norms we adopt. Some are more bad than good, some more good than bad.

I think the world is mostly filled with good people and that the exceptions get lots of the attention; but I'm pretty cynical.

The outpouring of support for the tsunami was incredible; but I wonder where the outpouring of support is for Aids in Africa and other worthy causes. Every week in Africa more people die of Aids than died in the tsunami, and yet it's not really on most peoples' radar screens. I think the amount of media attention to one, single event and the quick, sound and image bytes that accompany *some* natural disasters lends itself somehow better to our human sensibilities and makes support more tangible and palatable. Aids in Africa is a more complex problem our short attention spans can't seem to grasp as well.

Relief agencies With the recent earthquake in Pakistan/Kashmir recently had to send out another alert to say "it's getting cold, people are in danger of freezing to death, send help" and lots of people attribute that to racism (Muslims are terrorists, though the irony there is that large part of the populations effected by the tsunami were Muslim) and, what I perceive to be, a perception based on that racism that people there were less worthy of our compassion than the people effected by the tsunami.

I also don't think we can really blame people who are insane for their crimes; lots of that really can be attributed to medical problems and chemical issues.

Finally, I will confess to having a lead foot. No speeding tickets yet, and I don't drive at maniac speeds or weave in and out of traffic, but when it's a clear day and the roads are good I'll break the speed limit.

Sara said...

See and that's my point...

We need lawyers because, not of people like the criminally insane or the murderers... but because of people like us.

Hypothetical situation:

Heather, you're speeding to get home. Not at a crazy speed, but faster than the limit (therefore faster than society has decided is safe). You accidently run over someone's cherished pet.

Of course you didn't intend it, but your lack of obeying the rules is a partial cause of it. Someone is wronged... I mean the pet who got ran over is wronged... but the person who owns the pet is wronged by you because you made a choice to speed. (I, by the way, make the same choice, so you could replace me in the hypothetical).

Well people who commit wrongs always rationalize that. Things come out like: "Well even if I had been going slower it would have probably happened anyway." "People shouldn't leave their pets outside." "It came out of nowhere". Of course, since I know you, there'd also be guilt... but this is always mixed with rationalization.

Is this possibility real? Of course. If you're going faster your reaction time is reduced. This could, very likely, lead to accidents that involve loss of life, injury to yourself, or injury to others. Speed limits are there for a reason, but we always say things like "Well I don't drive like a maniac, or weave in and out of traffic".

Somehow the fact that there are people out there who are worse than us seems to make it okay... and I fully don't get that. But, it's how all of our brains (mine included) seem to work.

There is a lot of good in some people, but I guess the problem is that even the best person out there has SOME bad in them, and we all sort of just say "Oh well, they're mostly good". What really gets me isn't that there are some truly horrible, evil people in the world... I mean that sucks, but they aren't the real problem. The real problem is that the people we consider "good" all are actually people who break society's rules, but just don't get caught for it.

The problem I have is that I can't think of one person I've ever met who I can say is totally good. A totally good person doesn't exist, and as long as each and every one of us has a capacity for bad we can't ever have a perfect world.

Heather said...

You can run over a pet just as easily doing the speed limit, some things are unavoidable; I was getting at peoples' intentions. To me there's a difference between accidents and intentionally seeking to hurt someone.

I really believe there are degrees of good and bad. It isn't that we're all degrees of bad, we're all shades of grey, some shades of grey darker than others.

The fact that there are worse people isn't what makes it okay, society assigns social mores making one offence considered worse than another. Our society creates a stratification of offences which range in severity; just as our justice considers mitigating factors when we sentence people (he's remorseful, he apolozied to the victim, paid restitution, etc).

I just don't see people as being inherently bad.

Sara said...

I just see people as making decisions that aren't very "good", and justifying them...

The pet one is just another example... yes, you COULD run over a pet just as easily going the speed limit... but you're more LIKELY to not be able to stop in time if you're speeding.

THAT is what confuses me. Yes, there are varying degrees (ie there are people who just wouldn't brake for a pet, and those people are just evil) but those among us who are actually decent people make choices, deliberate choices, that are reckless and we know could cause harm or loss to someone else.

Whether or not we CHOOSE to run over the pet isn't the issue... If we KNEW that on Tuesday if you drove too fast you would run over a cat, I'm SURE that on Tuesday you wouldn't speed. What bugs me is the fact that we KNOW we're doing something that COULD increase the chance of wronging someone and we do it anyway.

And we all do it.

And that's what I mean by our whole society justifying things... people who steal from a bank, an insurance company, the government or a cable company and people are like "Oh, that's okay, they're bad people". You steal from someone's grandma... not so good.

What you're doing on each occasion is just as wrong, it's the exact same thing... just like speeding. Doesn't matter what the justification is, it's still wrong. Yet people seem to justify everything they do to wrong someone else as "not so bad because of X, Y or Z"... and society thinks that's okay, because that's how all of our brains work.

If our brains didn't work that way the world might be a better place.... because speeders like me wouldn't say "Meh, I'm not going THAT fast"... I would say "I'm engaging in behaviour that is dangerous to myself and others, and I don't want to hurt anyone so I'll not engage in that behaviour."

elane1958 said...

In the U.S., a pet owner has to have control of their dogs at all times. Which means that they're suppose to be on a leash no longer then 6'. Now, if you were speeding and ran over this cherished pet, is it your fault? Hell's the stupid pet owner that couldn't control their dog enough to keep them from being harmed.

Now, as a cat owner, myself (and dog), I never allow my cats to roam freely outside. This is wrong. I don't care what anybody says. So, if the cat gets run over, is it your fault? Nope. Again, it is the ignaramous pet owner.

This is not to be confused with running over a kid. That's entirely a different thing all together

Sara said...

Again with the justification.

I would bet money that if your cat or dog managed to dart out of the house inadvertently, despite you trying to keep it inside, and was run over by someone driving too fast down your street you (or most people in that situation) would likely blame the speeding driver, at least a little.

I fully agree that pet owners should be responsible and keep their pets inside or on a leash at all times... but sometimes pets manage to sneak out.

And if you were driving over the limit and accidently ran over a kid that could very likely put you in the realm of criminal liability... so yeah, entirely different ballgame.

But now we're back into excusing one irresponsible and illegal behaviour because of someone elses illegal or irresponsible behaviour. It's akin to saying it's okay to steal from drug dealers because they shouldn't be dealing drugs in the first place. Or its okay to take the life of a murderer cause he took someone else's life. Specious reasoning if you ask me.

elane1958 said...

oh poo, I read that wrong....I was considering under normal driving conditions. Yes, I would be pissed of royally at somebody speeding down my street. However, as a pet owner, I take full responsibility of my pet getting out. Yes, I have a little dog that thinks he's allowed to leave the house with me everytime I do. I have to pick him up, walk out the door and then put him back in just before I shut the door when I leave. OR, I have to shut him up in a room or he'll sneak out. IF he had gotten out and hit by a car, as upset as I would be over it, it is my responsibility because I failed to see that he didn't sneak out.

OK, as for speeders, quite frankly, if I thought for 1 second that I could get away with it and not injure another person doing it, I would shoot the bloody b*st*rds tires out. Violent, aren't I? haha

Our insurance rates our out of this world due to the Mr/Ms Speeder. He/She is more likely to get into an accident. Being that I work in insurance, I just love how somebody will call and try to explain their way out of having to pay more insurance due to a ticket or an at fault accident. The most common one is, "But I've been with (FILL IN THE BLANK) for years. Look at all the insurance I've paid and never made a claim. I think I should be excused this one time" (Actually, the company I work for will excuse you 1 infraction, considering if you have been with us for over 5 terms (a term is 6 mos)). Oh well, we are an imperfect people. Makes life more interesting to have all the bad apples. Goody 2 shoes can be boring (safe, but, boring).