Compass

Fresh Perspectives You Can Use.

Take Responsibility for Anything You Do

eBook Moving HorizonsHave you heard of the Stella Awards? Apparently, once a year Colorado journalist Randy Cassingham ranks the 10 most frivolous lawsuits in the USA by “virtue” of their ridiculous claims and outrageous judgements.

It all started with 79 year old Stella Liebeck in 1992 who sued McDonald’s in New Mexico because she spilled hot coffee in her parked car, burned her legs in the process – and won US$ 640.000 compensation!

According to one of many websites spreading the word about other people’s clumsiness and insolence, here is another one of these bizarre top ranking incidents :

In Nov 2000 Mr. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, on the highway with a brandnew mobile home, allegedly put the cruise control on 70 miles an hour and went back to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. Much to his surprise, the vehicle swerved off the road and overturned a few times.

He sued the manufacturer for not warning him in the operating manual that the car has to be steered when it is moving – and was awarded US$ 1.750.000 plus a new mobile home by a jury!

Coffee doesn’t agree with me either, but that’s not the point. When I arrived to live in South Africa, it was the law that required black people to sit in separate buses, didn’t allow them to use the most popular beaches and forced them to live with limited opportunities.

A few years before I was born, German law allowed millions of people to be herded into death camps.

Earlier last century, the law in many countries prevented most women on earth to vote, and had made slavery socially acceptable. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, and Socrates was murdered because the law said it was OK to get rid of intellectual dissidents that way.

Responsible people know that they must live their lives by ethics rather than rules.

I suggest that we consult the integrity of our own mind before we look to find some obscure law, rule or tradition to justify virtually any kind of immoral behaviour.

Rules are no reason to live in a certain way, wether they have been set up by the UN or your social club. Personal responsibility cannot be thrown overboard in any area of your life, whether it involves decisions on fighting a war or how you dress, what you eat, who you vote for and how you raise your children.

When you think about it, you’ll find that most evils perpetrated on humanity have been brought about under the protective custody of laws at the time. We only need to look across the border at Zimbabwe right now.

I am not asking you to deliberately break any laws, but I am surprised sometimes how easily our ethics are compromised by shiny badges and famous names, large companies and half-dead institutions.

Without making a big splash about it, we can vote with our feet and walk away from dubious practices. We can proceed in a way as individuals who know how to take personal responsibility for our actions.

Blaming others for your own misfortunes or circumstances creates a society of cowards hiding behind a grid of laws which invites everyone to seek out the loopholes – and the dubious fame of a high ranking in the Stella Awards !

Until next time, all the best from : Berend

Friday, 25 August 2006 - Posted by | 1. COMPASS eNewsletter

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