How do you feel when you hear of somebody seeking financial compensation? How about leaving your comment for the readers here?
My feelings are often ambivalent.
Take two people who both feel bullied and emotionally abused by each other at work. One of them decides to resign and “move on”. The other seems to be fixated on getting financial compensation for pain and suffering. The union which deals with aggrieved members all the time discourages this course in this particular case, and friends believe this apparent goal is hindering any reasonable self-assessment, a sensible resolution and personal growth.
On the one hand I cannot deny that there are many people have suffered serious, deliberate and damaging harm from an “accident”, negligence, or malice. Isn’t it fair and even necessary that the person or people responsible for this harm are penalized under law in financial and other ways, and that the victim is helped as much as is helpful, including financially?
Another benefit of our increasingly litigious culture is that more attention is now at last being given to work safety, child safety, risk assessment and management, safe practice, and more. The downside of this is that many of us are finding our work is more and more asphyxiated by rules and regulations, necessary and good as some of these may be!
It also seems to me that growing numbers of people are seeing themselves as possible “victims” and resorting to litigation “because there may be something in it for me”. We see law firms specialising in these cases, placing “public notice” advertisements and benefitting hugely from penalties which are meant to be compensation for avoidable suffering.
What we are seeing seems to me to be a measure of our increasingly greedy and materialistic communal ethos that brings little or no real or lasting well-being. Our community fixation with money, law and compensation is distorting and discouraging us all – whether accused, complainants, people-in-conflict, or simply working.
Why raise this here?
For many years now I have been reading the stories of disappointed, traumatised and sometimes troubled parents and patients. I blog every week about the imperfections of our medical workers, our parents, and of our own success in dealing with trauma. I am personally acquainted with the pain that infant surgery can bring to parents and patients.
But I am very clear: I write as a survivor, not a victim.
A victim takes on a mindset that is quite different from that of the survivor. The victim is angry, the survivor is grateful. The victim is looks back, the survivor looks forward. The victim seeks punishment, the survivor seeks personal benefit. The victim is focussed on self, the survivor is focussed on others.
Who would really want to stay a victim?