Victims and shared responsibility: There are many reasons that we take precautions even if we would be legally in the right had we not taken those steps. These reasons can be centered around personal safety, money, or legal or moral issues. These reasons apply to law abiding, contributing homeowners, as well as those in the criminal justice system. And everyone in between. We can avoid being victims by taking action even when we are “in the right.”
This 10 minute episode will help us in our lives, and help us to think through the issues surrounding us.
Victims and shared responsibility: Personal safety and money reasons: We lock our cars and homes when empty. Many homeowners have installed cameras and alarms. We have homeowner’s insurance, and renters should have renter’s insurance. We add smoke and fire alarms to help protect us, and all of us should have fire extinguishers.
If someone, perhaps a random vandal or a mentally unstable person, set fire to a portion of the outside of our home, we would call the fire department, then start hosing down the burn area. We certainly would not say, “That’s wrong; that should never be happening”, and do nothing. Right or wrong, fair or unfair, our responsibility is to minimize the damage. That is the opposite of doing nothing, then embracing our status as a victim to gain attention, sympathy, or money or other compensation.
Legal reasons: Right-of-way analogy taught in Driver’s Ed in a public school. Last clear chance to avoid. Don’t die holding onto the concept of having the right-of-way. You might indeed have had the right-of-way, but you are still just as dead after the crash. The last clear chance doctrine says that in personal injury cases, even if the plaintiff was negligent in an accident, he can still recover damages, if the defendant could have avoided the accident by using ordinary and reasonable care.
The military taught me a related and equally important lesson. If you think an order is stupid, unfair or wrong, don’t disobey. Follow the order, then complain and sort things out afterward. This piece of wisdom can clearly be applied to the criminal justice world. If a cop gives you an order, follow it. If an injustice has been done, seek compensation and other sorts of satisfaction later. And we all know that resisting arrest is far more likely to cause harm to the resistor than it is to lead to any type of perceived justice by allowing the suspect to escapeMoral: “Lock your car, take your keys. Don’t help start a kid on a life of crime.”
That was the beginning of an oft-played public service radio announcement I remember from my youth. Note the emphasis on protecting the youth, not on saving the listener from having their car stolen. And I am certain that this announcement was not absolving car thieves of any crimes if they found keys that were left in an unlocked car. It was clearly pointing out that victims can bear some responsibility as well as the perpetrators. And I love it that the central point of this spot was to avoid tempting the would-be car thief. The implied–but secondary–point was about keeping your car from being stolen. Of course, people have every right to ignore this good advice, and if their car is stolen, the thief still needs to be caught and punished.
Let’s look at a recent example: Former cop Kim Potter’s manslaughter conviction for killing Daunte Wright; three entities share responsibility here. Ms. Potter made a tragic and inexcusable error when she pulled and fired her gun instead of pulling and activating her taser. The small Brooklyn Center Police Department’s live fire training was woefully inadequate. Daunte Wright would be alive today if he had not been resisting arrest, attempting to drive away from the arresting officers.
And George Floyd. Mr. Floyd would be alive today if he had not been resisting arrest. And so many others. Shared responsibility, not all one entity’s fault. Neither Mr. Wright nor Mr. Floyd deserved to die for resisting arrest. And our justice system emphatically agreed by convicting both killers. Both officers were legally and morally wrong. And Daunte Wright and George Floyd could have chosen to be alive today, free to make their case against any perceived injustices in our criminal justice system. Follow the order then question and protest.
Moving away from criminal activity, here are some other really useful examples:
1. Personal Responsibility; take it, teach it and,
2. Be Your Brother’s Keeper. The answer to the biblical question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is a ringing, unequivocal “Yes.” There is no other answer.
Where do you stand? What are you going to do? Remember, it does not matter where you stand if you don’t do anything. You can start by subscribing to these episodes, and encouraging others to subscribe with you.
As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty. 1 Corinthians 16:1.
As we get ready to wrap up, please do respond in the episodes with comments or questions about this episode or anything that comes to mind, or connect with me on Twitter, @willluden, Facebook, facebook.com/will.luden, and LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com/in/willluden/. And you can subscribe on your favorite device through Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and wherever you listen to podcasts.
This is Will Luden. We’ll talk again soon.