Monthly Archives: January 2014

What Good Are Ambulance Chasers Anyway?

There are a lot of schmarmy looking lawyers on TV. You know who I am talking about. They smile winsomely at the camera, their salt and pepper hair clipped short, assertively proclaiming that you are being denied your rights.

“If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident…”

“If you’ve been denied disability from the government…”

“If you died taking a harmful medication…”

They are the ones to talk to. No fees unless they win the case! Then they turn serious and cross their arms…the defenders of justice, the righters of wrongs, must always cross their arms if it is a TV commercial or a billboard. I suppose they’d do it on the radio if you could see. Because they are trustworthy.

Except they don’t seem very trustworthy. They seem…well, schmarmy. Who calls those toll free numbers anyway? You know plenty of people who were denied disability for a perfectly good reason call that number. How many of those success stories can be believed? The thousands of dollars pouring into the innocent victims’ pockets…it just strikes a weird cord. And there are so many commercials! What good do they do? No wonder lawyers get a bad rap!

Despite their annoyingness, cheesiness, and possibly even downright creepiness, there is another element to these commercials. I don’t know if the stories are real, or relevant, or a waste of time. They do, however, play an important role in promoting our democracy. Our government was created on the basis of a Western legal tradition. It was not something that developed over night. It took the combined efforts of precedence and identification to cultivate and sustain the freedom we take for granted today.

To adequately reap the benefits of our legal system, freedom must be maintained. To maintain freedom, there must be a legal field of right and wrong…laws. Politics becomes important as those laws develop but that is a post for another day. What I want you to grasp is the balance that must be upheld for our society to flourish. There must be law to keep order, but there must also be a way to keep order from getting out of hand and squashing freedom.

Those lawyers on TV represent part of the way our society does that. Sometimes, you are unfairly denied disability from the government. Sometimes, you die from taking harmful medication. There are innocent victims out there. There are also a lot of crooks, cheats, and leaches that take advantage of the system. It offends the sensibilities that the two get mixed together. However, both must be defended because to remove that right is to remove our freedom. Democracy may not be the neatest system. People fall through the cracks or take advantage of the system. They must have their say in court anyway. To ignore it is to become a despotic state, unable to help anyone. Why do we need defense lawyers? Because even the guilty must get justice. Why do we need ambulance chasers? Because in the end, fraudulently or innocently, our system must continue to maintain freedoms and precedence and part of that is having a system in place to fairly keep order.

I don’t expect you to change your mind about lawyers, or bad commercials, or the supposed benefits being denied. I don’t really like them much myself. I do hope, however, that the next time a commercial comes on telling you that there are no fees until the case is won!…that you will pause and think. There is something bigger at work. As humans we are fallen, dishonest, and sometimes schmarmy creatures. Time and generations have tackled the problem, though, case by case, year by year, and we have a system that stands through it. We have courts and we have freedom. Our system is not perfect, but we are guaranteed much of what we take for granted because of it.

The Grass Is Still Brown

It is pretty much the same.

Bryan College, I mean.

Oh, there are a few trees missing and certainly some new faces, but nothing particularly strange. They haven’t painted Mercer blue or anything. Dayton seems about the same. I am told there is a new yogurt place; Wal Mart and McDonalds are still standing strong (important facts for this student’s budget!) I suppose I haven’t been gone that long anyway. A summer. A semester.

It feels so much longer, though. The weirdest part isn’t the missing trees or that they turned Robinson’s computer lab into a “fitness center” (with absolutely nothing in it so I don’t know how useful it is.) The weirdest part isn’t even having a new roommate or reminding myself to go downstairs instead of upstairs for my room. The weirdest part for me is…

Well, me.

When I first came to Bryan College, there was a sense of displacement but also eagerness. Nobody knew me. I knew no one. Anybody might be my friend, everybody! Going to Oxford, I felt the same emotions. Once again, life was a blank sheet of paper to be explored and maybe even invented. Who would I end up being today? Going home is going back to where they know me. Back to family, back to childhood friends and adults who have known me since I was a baby. Familiarity.

Its a comfortable balance, what surprised me about coming back to Bryan College, however, was how many people knew me. I mean really know me. It is not that I forgot I had friends. It is more…I forgot friends stay in the same place. It is such a joy to see them all again. A surprising, wonderful joy. We’ve all changed some. Like Bryan College, a few trees have been knocked down and the computer lab got turned into a “fitness center”. They are here, though.

I have my place already established at Bryan College, and a semester away didn’t change that. I haven’t completely disappeared. Acquaintances nod and say… “Hey Amy.” At those two words, I look at them in surprise. Of course I know their names, but I’ve been gone! The faculty and staff greet me…usually pausing to beam down at me and inquire, “How was Italy?” (England…Italy…easy to mix up…especially when I’m wearing my Oxford hoodie.)

What is the strangest part about coming back to Dayton, TN? Realizing that life may not be a blank slate, and there is something wonderful about that. No uncertainly, I am loved by my friends. I have a place here at Bryan College. One I like. One I know.

It’s good to be back.