War Memorial Gary Trouton

Parish Newsletter for St Andrew's Northwold etc

November 2004

The monthly update from Keith with a forthright view on our growing compensation culture.

The Parishes of St. Andrew, Northwold; All Saints, Wretton with Stoke Ferry;

and Christ Church, Whittington.

For more details contact me, Keith MacLeod at West Barn, Ryston Road, West Dereham

(01366 500960) (07766 766 137) (email: keith.macleod@virgin.net)

Diary for November 2004

31st October (All Saints - 4th before Advent)

11.00am All Age Worship at Wretton

7th November (3rd before Advent)

9.30am Service of The Word at Whittington

10.30am Holy Communion at St Andrews

14th November 2004 (Remembrance Sunday)

10.55am Service of Remembrance at Wretton

3.00pm Service of Remembrance at Northwold

21st November (Christ the King)

8.00am Holy Communion at Northwold

9.30am Holy Communion by Extension

at Whittington

28th November (Advent Sunday)

9.30am Benefice Holy Communion

At Wretton

5th December (Sunday after Advent)

9.30am Service of The Word at Wretton

11.00am Holy Communion at Northwold

Rotas for Church cleaning & flowers

November Christ Church Mrs D Eves & Penny All Saints Mrs P Willis and Mrs H Durrance

December Christ Church Mrs S Warner & Mrs J Elsie All Saints Mrs P Willis and Mrs H Durrance

Sunday School - All Welcome

There is a Sunday School during the main Sunday services at St. Andrew's Church, Northwold (except for Sunday's with All Age Worship). This is open to any school age child living in the villages of Northwold, Wretton, Stoke Ferry, Whittington and Brookville. If you are not able to stay with your child please drop them off by 10.50 and collect them by 12.15.

Victims, Blame, Compensation . . .

We are famously (infamously!) in an age categorised as having a Compensation Culture. How has this happened; do we need to get out of it; how do we do so; what is it all about anyway? I think the problem comes down to the difference between Responsibilities and Rights. I hear people talking on the Radio and on TV about the need for people to recognise the responsibilities that go along with their new found or newly exercised rights. I do not argue with that, but it overlooks what is, I think, is the main area of concern, which is that we have increasingly in recent decades transferred the responsibilities of some into the rights of others. Perhaps I can illustrate this best by the apparent introduction of Children's Rights

When I was a child, my parents took time (from time to time) to remind me that I was not there of my own volition but by their choice. They made me fully aware of their responsibilities to me - to feed me, educate me and prepare me for life as an independent adult in due course. That responsibility was an independent thing - it did not emanate from their love for me - it was a responsibility they adopted simply by virtue of their relationship to me as parents. I had no 'rights', that anyone bothered to enumerate. However, if they had chosen to abuse me or perhaps kill me, they would have been liable under the law in the same way as if they had done the same to someone else's child or to another adult. In order to exercise their responsibilities, they had charge of me - if they had been unfit, I could have been removed from them and cared for by the State. As a child, I was not regarded by my parents or by society generally or by the law specifically as having independent powers - my parents had to pay for damage that I caused and were punished for my public crimes and were responsible for disciplining me.

Nowadays, the parents seem to have no responsibilities (except residually in people's minds, as we change our ideas slowly), but the children have rights. So, now, we have to have special laws to make parents punishable for their children's truancy; children can go to the Doctor and obtain as serious treatment as an abortion, with no obligation to even inform the parents. Let alone seek their approbation. When an ill-informed (as ALL children are), immature (as ALL children are) feels aggrieved he can now apply for a 'divorce' from his parents. When any adult seeks to moderate the bad behaviour of children this is treated as common assault. If I bend down to help a small child who has fallen over, I (especially as a male adult) can be charged with child abuse and risk being put on the register of such abusers. Over the past quarter century, we have gone out of our way, as a society people, that all adults are potential attackers and abusers. Children have not developed a sense of proportion or of moral values, they have always screamed at the slightest slight or trivial injury and blamed whoever was within reach. Sensible adults have laughed at them and gradually taught them how to behave in a complex society where we are all dependent on our neighbours and families. But now, if anything happens, we are being trained to believe that someone must be at fault, that someone must be named and shamed and we, as victims must be treated with great sensitivity and compensated. So a substantial percentage of our NHS Budget now goes to paying compensation for imagined or accidental wrongs, instead of into the care of those who hurt or are ill.

A friend recently lost his father to MRSA. He was a man in his sixties, in reasonable good health, who went into the hospital for some relatively minor treatment - and he sadly died. My friend, within days, asked whether I thought he should sue the hospital. Although I said 'No', I believe he is still thinking of doing so. What a sad reaction. Certainly hew should ask for an explanation. But, if the system has resulted in these things happening - by accident - then what is the point of suing and thereby reducing the resources of the NHS Trust which is trying to resolve the problem. What is the point of identifying some nurse or doctor and trying to deprive them of their livelihood and the NHS of their services, because they failed to meet the highest standards, for who knows what good or bad reasons? This is not to say that we should not weed out bad apples, but who has not done bad work or some occasion.

When the crowd came to stone the prostitute to death, Jesus asked the one who had done no wrong to cast the first stone. When all had left without a word, Jesus simply asked her to sin no more. Maybe we cannot meet his standards, but we should start trying. We are all prone to accident - real accident - someone is not always to blame - certainly not someone else - it is usually ourselves. What a sad five or six years my friend is going to happen as he becomes increasingly embittered ands does not grieve properly for his father, but becomes a victim himself (in his own eyes) as the lawyers and other vultures (Sorry lawyers!) move in.

Even where there is someone to blame, I am not sure that it is healthy to maintain a close relationship between the criminal and the victim - such as is now common. It is generally accepted that we have not always paid enough attention to the needs of victims of crime and clearly we need to rectify this failure. But what has that got to do with the criminal? We are now becoming inured to seeing weeping relatives paraded before us on TV (just like the hostages in Iraq!) to demand justice. When a criminal is sentenced, the reporters ask the victims if the punishment was sufficient - of course it wasn't - what more biased an opinion could we seek than that of the victims?

Is it not time that we started to behave with a little more dignity, reserving judgements for a little longer, allowing the judges and juries to get on with dealing with criminals in accordance with the law and practice, allowing that every Doctor is going to make a mistake at some time or other, which although it may be a tragedy to the particular patient and family, from an objective standpoint needs to be seen for what it is - a lapse - slap his wrist, fine him - don't destroy him.

Reverting to where I started, with the reference to Responsibility and Rights, we have not just deprived parents of the ability and freedom to exercise proper responsibility, but all the professions also. One of the fundamental differences between the professional and the tradesman was not their skill levels, but their reliance on judgement. The tradesman applied known rules of thumb and of measurement, honed by experience. The professional made judgements where measurements were not available - judgements of Solomon. The Doctor, the lawyer, the Bank Manager and so on were relied on to judge the best course of action, where no blueprint was available. Nowadays, the accountant does not simply that the accounts he has prepared or audited give a true and fair view of the profits and state of the business - he writes pages of caveats in order to protect against a lawsuit. Again, responsibility held by one person has been effectively transferred into the rights of the other.

What we need to do is to think about things, instead of simply reacting to them. What we need to do is to think where our own responsibilities lie, before we jump to blame others. We need to count the real cost of blindly seeking compensation for imagined or small wrongs. We need a little more charity towards all our neighbours.

Keith Macleod

Keith MacLeod

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