The value of anything is measured by its absence
What if we could get to the root of what causes so much ill in society?
I will make a number of hypotheses on what that root or roots could be. I will tell what society would be like without the root as a way of evaluating what its presence means to us.
This essay is about the proposal of a community in a fictitious big city in the United States.
Society has its share of complications. For most people, the desires to get a good job and live in a comfortable neighborhood are not achieved easily. And even then, the average person faces conflict, perhaps a difference of opinion or worse, with those in power.
So I will start with Hypothesis #1: Lawsuits are a root of problems in our society.
A person may empower themselves by filing a lawsuit or a claim against the alleged offender of their rights and demand remedy for this offense. But instead of
acclaiming this right, I will create a community which challenges the premise that this empowerment really helps society as a whole.
What if we focused on the roots of conflict and looked for better ways to make effective resolution?
If a person believes they have been treated unfairly, they may well feel justified that they have a legal basis to make a complaint. An individual’s relationship to the law revolves around rights and responsibilities.
For example, if one signs a contract to sell a used car to another person for $10,000 and the other person, at the appointed time of transaction, tenders only $6,000, one could easily establish the right to the remaining $4,000. And, likewise, the responsibility of the other person to pay that amount of money.
The two may not agree. Perhaps the other person has an excuse not to pay, a different understanding of the contract, or perhaps out of spite, simply won’t pay. The two may not even be able to resolve this conflict. So the first person, with or without an attorney, files a lawsuit in the appropriate court.
Then it takes months or even years for the court to hear the suit.
A law firm in Michigan describes the process for lawsuits involving money as time spent in preparation of the filing of the lawsuit, the actual filing, the response from the defendant, discovery (6 months to a year), and case evaluation/settlement recommendation before actual trial.
Perhaps our hypothetical case would be settled or brought to trial sooner, but the point remains: the process is complicated and brings the parties far away from the conflict that brought about the suit. The ability to simplify conflict may not be possible, but what if we made the process simpler and closer to home?
I propose our community be composed of residents who will voluntarily surrender their right to sue. They may sue in a court outside the community but would have to leave the community.
We can give the parties to the contract dispute names. Alex and Bob. With no one telling Alex to sue Bob, Alex calls Bob on the phone and asks for $4,000 to complete the deal they signed.
Bob, with no lawyer to tell him to keep his mouth shut, tells Alex he simply doesn’t have the money. Alex responds by asking when he will have the money. Bob cannot give an exact time frame, but makes it clear that he fears the imminent reduction in hours at his job and must save his money.
The conversation takes a detour about the economy before a sympathetic Alex proposes a payment plan. Bob readily agrees as Alex assures him, “I know you are good for it. I know where you live.”
The two hang up. Maybe Bob follows the plan and pays in full someday. Maybe he doesn’t and Alex revises the plan and accepts Bob’s golf clubs at some point.
But what if the conflict is a little more complicated?
Carla lives in the community but works for a big company elsewhere. The company demotes her for insubordination over an incident at work. She thinks she is innocent but gets nowhere in approaching her Human Resources Department. The pay cut significantly reduces her income and she wants to fight it using the legal system.
But suing would mean losing her nice house in the community and Carla fears she will be unable to find a good place to live on the outside.
But what if the company values Carla enough not to want to lose her? Or what if they are concerned that other employees, who upon learning about Carla’s situation, start to think about employment elsewhere? Perhaps they would change their policies voluntarily.
These are only two examples of a community without lawsuits. I propose to
explore other possible situations that would come up.