Shootin' the Breeze

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Archive for the tag “remorse”

Beyond Reproach

Many of us have enjoyed the cute videos shared on the internet of dogs confronted when they have done something naughty.  Usually the owner recording it will say something like, “Fluffy, what did you do?”  And Fluffy will look so remorseful that it is funny.  Fluffy will hang his head under the burdern of guilt.  Fluffy will display a conscience.

Our puppy Gus is not burdened by a guilty conscience.  He does not hang his head in shame.  He does not put his tail between his legs.

He has mastered a sincere attitude of pride in all he accomplishes.  He wags his tail.  He looks up and smiles, as if to say, “I am glad you noticed.”

/For example, today, my lovely wife, Miss Sugar, bought a new grill and a cover for the grill.  We grilled some steaks within an hour of bringing it home.  When it cooled, Sugar put on the grill cover.  I suppose she intended to protect the grill from the elements.

Gus discovered the tray that catches drippings of grease.  It was not an easy task.  He had to get under the cover, which was awkward, so he wisely decided to remove the cover altogether.

So when I said, like the owners of the cute remorseful dogs, whose videos I have viewed,  “Gus, what did you do??”  his response with body language said what, if it was in words, would be: “Yeah, ain’t it great?  I know what you were thinking.  You were thinking that next time you want to use the grill, you have to take that cover off before you can even use it.  So, I knew you would be happy to see that I removed it in anticipation of your needs.  And don’t think it was easy.  It had those Velcro straps.  I had to use my mouth to bite through that Teflon material.  It took a long time, but now it is mostly off.  I just need you to help me get the tattered remains off too.  It looks stupid to have the grill partially covered. You are welcome.”

I hope Sugar has learned a lesson in utilitarianism.  She often fails to express appreciation for what Gus does for us.  She is very forgiving, but what is there to forgive?

Gus wishes that she would come to recognize that he is, indeed, beyond reproach.


The Enabler

They were friends and classmates, each girl 18 years old and two weeks from high school graduation when they went for a ride after school.  The driver inexplicitly pulled out from a stop sign on a county road and started to cross a busy U.S. highway into the path of a semi-tractor trailer, which crashed into the passenger side of the car, instantly killing the passenger.  The driver survived.  Her injuries were not serious.

The parents of the girl who died belonged to our church.  They came to me to represent them in the wrongful death case.

Understandably, they were grief-stricken.  Their Christian faith and community of friends comforted them.  Still, they struggled to come to grips with the tragedy. They wisely went to grief counseling.  Their out-of-pocket charges amounted to something around $400.00.  Money well spent.

We recovered all the liability insurance available.  That is my job.  They generously used the money to set up a foundation in honor of their daughter.  The foundation provides scholarships for students at the university she would have attended;  the driver did attend that same school where the friends had planned to go together.  They had planned to stay friends in college.  They had looked forward to that next stage of life.   Sadly, that was not to be.

The young driver faced some charges.  I think it was “careless driving resulting in death.”  At the sentencing hearing, the District Attorney asked for some restitution.  Although we had recovered substantial money in the civil case, the criminal case is separate.  The settlement money came from the insurance company for the driver who caused the collision.  The criminal case is for punishing the defendant driver.  The parents of the girl she killed attended the sentencing.  They did not want revenge.  They told the D.A. they did not want their daughter’s friend to go to jail.   I told the D.A. before the sentencing that it would be a nice gesture for the defendant to be required to pay for the grief counseling as a condition of probation.  It was not much money, but would be appropriate and even symbolic.  The D.A. agreed.

So, at the sentencing, the D.A. recommended that the defendant pay $400 to the parents as restitution for the grief counseling sessions.  The mother of the defendant was also present.  She addressed the court, “My daughter can’t pay that.  She is in college and is in a sorority.  She needs all the money she made this summer for those expenses.”  Apparently, this mother had no empathy for the mother and father who lost their daughter through the fault of HER DAUGHTER.  Apparently, she saw her daughter as some kind of victim for being asked to pay $400 that she would rather spend on sorority fun.  And that is what she is teaching her daughter, rather than the hard lesson that there are consequences to one’s actions, rather than the importance of remorse.

The daughter who died in the accident did not get to attend college and party at a sorority.

Parents, teach your children, starting when they are around two years old, that when they hurt someone, they need to learn to say, “I’m sorry.”

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