Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Warped Mind of the Modern Human

Okay.  I'm sure this will be the first in a long series of posts regarding the absolute evil that is our current capitalist society.  Before the comments come pouring in about capitalism being the American way, and anyone who thinks differently isn't American, allow me to say the following:  As with any sociopolitical structure, I believe that the core principles behind capitalism are quite fair.  "Use the means at your disposal to further better yourself and your loved ones."  That's great, and it truly sums up the American value system as it is applied today by the youth of America.

I StumbledUpon this article today, which in turn lead me to this article.  You can read the articles, but I'll explain the gist of it.

It was an overcast night in late October.  A group of teenagers (the boy who died was 17) were out riding their bicycles.  They wore no bicycle helmets.  They were wearing dark clothing with minimal reflectors on the bikes.  They rode three abreast on a rural highway in Canada.  It was "early morning" (shortly after 1:00 a.m.).  A woman driving a black SUV at five miles over the speed limit struck the boys, killing one and seriously injuring another.

Okay.  I understand why that is tragic.

According to the articles, courts did not place the driver at fault for the accident.  She was not intoxicated, from the reports.  She simply couldn't see the cyclists.  The courts blamed low visibility:  overcast night, improper safety precautions on the part of the cyclists, etc.

Just an unfortunate accident.

Unfortunately none of us have all of the details.  All we can do is speculate based on the information given to us by (presumably on my part) biased news outlets.  (Biased because news delivery is a business and all news outlets are concerned about viewership and readership, and as such they will write and phrase things in ways that pull on the emotional heartstrings of their demographics to generate additional sales revenue.)

Based on the information we do have, I would personally fault the cyclists.  No helmets, riding abreast without proper visibility, dark clothing, 1:00 in the morning.  (I'm getting a little bit off topic here, but what were three teenagers doing riding their bikes around at 1:00 in the morning on a Sunday in October?  Don't they have school the next day?  Shouldn't they be at home in bed?  That isn't a reason to blame them for this accident, but it's an interesting point.)

My point with this post actually means to deal with the law suit now being filed against the victims of the accident.  The woman driving the SUV has filed a lawsuit against the families (and estate) of the three boys for over a million dollars.  She cites that she is still in shock (two years later) and is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Okay, I get that.  Being responsible (though not at fault) for someone else's death is quite a traumatic experience.  I'd probably take some time to come to terms with that as well.  I don't know that I'd ever want to drive again (though, to be fair, I'm somewhat anti-automobile anyway - which I might cover in another post - so I'm not sure my opinion should matter).

My question for this woman is...  Will money help alleviate your pain?

This is something I don't understand in our country.  I spilled hot coffee on myself, I'll bet there's a way I'll never have to work again.  (Yes, I know that McDonald's was actually at fault there; their coffee was actually too hot and the lid was not on properly - it's just an example.)  I pushed my kid into participating in sports he wasn't interested in, and when he was kicked off the team for never showing up I found the perfect way to retire by suing the school.  I'm thirty-something and don't have a job and my parents refuse to help me out because they think I'm lazy, I'll sue them for "indifference" and open up a couple of Domino pizza restaurants.

The capitalism of our society has moved from the bright and shiny, "Make something of yourself through hard work and dedication," (you know, that thing immigrants are told they can do when they move here) and has been replace by "Take advantage of your situation and the trust and livelihoods of others so you don't really have to work."

Maybe we can blame it on Scrooge McDuck from Duck Tales.  I recall him saying quite often to Huey, Dewey, and Lewy, "Work smarter, not harder."

Maybe it is "smart" to sue the person you killed for causing you trauma over their death.  If it holds up in court it is likely the woman will never have to work again.  She'll be set for life, and who really cares about the pain and trauma she caused to other people.

Is the narcissism of our society that deeply rooted that this woman hasn't even stopped to think about the pain and suffering the dead boy's parents are going through?  What about the "seriously injured" boy who broke his pelvis?  She's suing him, too.  Did she stop to think that maybe he's suffering just as much as she is?  It's doubtful.

"Oh, no.  I can't sleep at night.  I have too many nightmares about murdering a teenaged boy.  I'll bet a shit-ton of cash will help me feel better.  I'm sure everyone else involved with this accident are doing just fine.  In fact, they're probably doing better than fine.  The broken pelvis boy is probably going to prom and laughing and partying."


Here's the thing.  Money is not the answer to anyone's problems.  (To be fair, though, I absolutely hate money.  I believe it to be the worst creation of all time.  It makes people lazy and selfish.)  I'd like to know if she believes that her life should go back to normal after being a part of something so horrible.

Hell, I still have nightmares about my dog's leg getting caught in the spokes of my bicycle one morning and breaking in half.  Traumatic things happen and we need to learn to cope, but we also need to understand that nothing will ever be the same again.  There is nothing - NOTHING - that can make her depression go away besides owning up to what happened.  Facing it head on is the only solution.  "Yes.  This thing happened.  It was horrible and I feel like shit about it."

$1.35 million dollars isn't going to erase the pain.  It will only further serve as a blanket to pull over herself and help her to blame others for something she is ultimately responsible for.

I don't care that she was found to be not "at fault."  As an avid cyclist I understand that each of the boys could have done a million things better than what they did to protect themselves from an accident.  But, as the father of the dead boy said, "They're kids; they're allowed to make a mistake."

I would go further and suggest that because they are human, they are allowed to make a mistake.  And that segues nicely into my final point.

This woman is also human.  She is also allowed to make mistakes.  I would suggest that she made a huge mistake by not being as vigilant to the road in front of her when driving.  But I would also suggest that she is making another mistake with this lawsuit.

My hope is that somewhere, someone will find a way to help this woman understand that what she is doing isn't going to help her with the pain she's struggling with.  It is probably that pain that is clouding her judgment, and while that is understandable it is still detestable.  (Her reaction is exactly the argument I make against criminals and gang-bangers in regards to the use of guns, but that's for another post.)