Friday, August 05, 2011

Just to Avoid Being Held Responsible

I'm still seeing arguments about the news story that I mentioned in my last post. Sadly, a significant number of them are making the same preposterous classist and ablist assertions that bothered me yesterday.

The area where I'm from is known as Cancer Alley. For over twenty years, this area has had outrageously high rates of incidence for cancer, including very rare types that most doctors go their entire careers without ever encountering. It's a heavy industrial area that produces enough air pollution that it strips the finish off of cars in the area.

Should people who have developed cancer due to the carelessness of others just suck it up and move on? And the idea that in this life you have to work hard is utter nonsense. I live a much better life than the average person who gets cancer down here in Cancer Alley. Does that mean I worked harder those who don't have what I have?

What about personal responsibility? Why are so many people afraid of it? To me, that is a much bigger issue than the idea that there are people in the world who want things handed to them. Those folks mainly ruin and waste their own lives through sloth. However, people that run around behaving carelessly and believing that they shouldn't be held responsible for their actions pose a threat to those around them, too.

Because of people who are essentially self-centered and self-absorbed, other folks wind up with a lower quality of life, a diminished ability to earn a living, and sometimes we even die. And our willingness to work hard couldn't prevent us from being affected by people who spend their time being impressed with themselves.

My hubby was working for a delivery company 60+ hours a week and going to school full-time in the honors program, majoring in Electrical Engineering. He worked hard to care for a disabled wife, our child, and to pay for school. One day, he was delivering a package and the homeowner decided to let his dog out of the house when he went to get the box. The dog promptly attacked my hubby and when he went down, he hit his head on the side of his delivery truck and then on the ground. He was knocked unconscious and sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a result of hitting his head.

As soon as he was out of the hospital, he tried to continue working, even though he was still healing from his wounds. We desperately needed his income. We weren't on any government programs; we had no welfare check or food stamps or childcare vouchers. We were just a working class family, barely eking out a living and trying to improve our circumstances through education.

Those who love to claim that folks who sue others are just looking for a way to get out of working hard can feel free to explain how we were being lazy or sue-happy when we were forced to deal with the fact that my husband now has significant loss of ability to remember things and a spine with crushed vertebrae. He had to quit school and he couldn't keep his position at work because it required a level of functioning that even the company agreed he no longer had, as a result of the attack.

It's really easy to defame individuals with disabilities when you can only see yourself in the eyes of the person(s) who caused the damage. However, is it really so hard to give the damaged person the same benefit of the doubt that these folks provide to those who caused it?

This is an issue of social justice. If someone ruined that doctor's hands, do you really think that he'd just give up the career that he's worked hard for and the earning potential that he had and just move on with his life? That's just laughable to think about! He'd sue the pants off of the individual who damaged him. And his social status makes him nearly immune to the kind of criticism leveled at poorer people who seek justice.

Anyone who thinks that there is some pervasive phenomenon where folks are using lawsuits to get rich without working obviously have no first-hand experience with the subject they're talking about. It took nearly FIVE YEARS just to get the dog owner's insurance company to pay for my husband's medical bills.

When their lawyers were trying to make claims about how much his injury cost him in earning potential, their calculations didn't include what he would have been making as an engineer. They didn't even include how much he made in over-time each week--that alone constituted more than a third of our income at the time of the attack.

If he and I didn't have well-to-do relatives who could dole out money to us each month, we would have become homeless. Does that sound like fun to y'all? Do y'all really think that this was an easy way to live? If so, you are seriously deluded.

Taking responsibility for your actions is what ethical/moral people do. Making others pay for your carelessness is cruel and contributes to the degradation of society. If you hurt someone, then you shouldn't even force them to go through the suing process. Unfortunately, suing is often the only recourse that exists because there are increasingly large segments of society (folks with the attitude that some are exhibiting here) who will do anything--that includes blaming the victim--to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.


Rootietoot said...

I hear things like "why can't he just get a better job" and "why don't they just move somewhere else?" stuff like that. know this...what kind of 'better job'? Where? Will they pay moving expenses, buy our house, put a down payment on another house? pay the deposits on a rental? Will they move our extended family,you know, the ones who help out, and who we help out in turn? Will that better job's insurance cover our preexisting medical conditions?
If only it were as simple as 'finding a better job and moving'.
You know, I am essentially conservative, and all for the whole "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" philosophy, but it just isn't that easy some of the time. The blame isn't simple, and the solution isn't simple.

-blessed holy socks, the non-perishable-zealot said...

Amen, sista. I like your very last paragraph. That sorta sez it all. Meet me in Heaven Above, will ya, where I'll softly kiss your adorable feets? God bless you with bawls, too, to overcome the hatred and pride of the population of U.S. See ya soon, girl. Love you.