Saving What We Love

September 7, 2020

I took my son to the barber shop near our home in Northeast Ohio when he was 4 or 5. It was always fun to see him perched up on the stool, sitting at attention. I think it may be the only time he would sit still for 20 minutes while awake. The barber started talking sports. He asked my son what teams he liked. My son said he loved the Indians, the Cavs, the Browns, and the Buckeyes. The barber then asked, “What teams do you hate?” My son turned to the barber and stopped him from cutting. The shop went quiet, all eyes trained on the conversation, and the 5 year old proclaimed, “I can’t stand that team from the bronx, I don’t like that team from three rivers, and I hate that team from up north” After a slight pause, and the shop erupted in laughter. I thought to myself, “That’s my boy.

No matter what we call it, we all hate something. I’m convinced we will never rid the world of hate.  As long as there are people, there will be a reason to hate.  Religion, ethnicity, color, gender, money, and even sports teams.  There is an unlimited number of differences that can give rise to hate.

I have been involved in hundreds of cases and dozens of trials involving medical negligence.  The preparation of these cases always presents the opportunity to focus the lens of hate on despicable things that have been done by highly trained professionals and huge healthcare organizations.

My goal in these matters is to make things better for the people injured or the families of those killed by medical negligence while also making things better for us all as we seek health care.  The question I have had to answer is does hate motivate people into making things better?  I can tell you firsthand that the desire to focus on hate is intoxicating.  It is easy to hate someone that hurts someone we love.  My career has been a struggle to answer whether the lens of hate or the lens of love has the greater capability of making things better.

I had a case which involved a child brain damaged at the time of birth.  The claim was that the OB/GYN should have delivered the child earlier and avoided the brain damage.  We had every opportunity in the case to direct hatred toward the OB/GYN; to point out the egregious nature of the conduct, or the laziness of the Ob for not coming earlier to the hospital.  We did none of this.

Instead, we focused on the fact that we all love our children and we must do everything we can to protect them.  We showed how the OB was inexperienced.  We showed through the nurses’ testimony how the fetal heart rate of the baby went from good to worrisome to ominous.  We showed how the parents would spend the rest of their life caring for their baby and the millions of dollars it would take to provide that care.

The jurors came to their own conclusion that the OB failed to deliver the baby due to her inexperience and awarded the family more than 10 million dollars.  Their decision was not based on hatred of the OB/GYN, but based on the need to protect children at all costs.

I was involved in another case where a woman gave birth to her child at home with a doula despite the fact that she had difficulties with her previous pregnancies.  During the pregnancy of this baby, the woman made regular visits to her family doctor for checkups. The family doctor never made a note in the file that the woman’s plan of having the baby at home could put the baby in danger.  There was no note advising against this plan.

We focused the case on how ridiculous we thought it was for the family doctor to follow along with the pregnancy and not advise the woman against the at-home birth.  The family doctor testified that she did in fact advise against the birth at home, she just did not document the discussion in the chart.

We lost the case.  The jury did not hate the family doctor the way we did.  Instead, the jurors disliked the mother for not doing everything she could to protect her child.

Hate has caused a lot of problems in this world, but it has not solved one yet. – Maya Angelou

My clients come in with multiple reasons to hate the people who hurt them, killed their loved ones, or maimed the people they love.  It is easy as their lawyer to join in on the hate parade.  I have learned that this generally does not work.

It is much easier and more effective to focus on love.  Inevitably, the defendant has taken something my clients love.  That love is universal.  We all love our parents.  We all love our children.  We all love our spouses.  We all have a right to be properly treated by our doctors.  When the focus turns to the commonality of what we love, we can make real change because we all want to protect and save the things we love.

I’m going to try to keep politics out of these videos, but when I do, I am going to give both sides. Right now, it seems both sides of our political spectrum are focused on trying to convince people to hate the other side.  We should hate President Trump because…. Fill in the blank…. We should hate Nancy Pelosi because…. Fill in the blank.  The result is a portion of the electorate on opposite sides of the spectrum entrenched in their positions, who cannot be convinced to change their stances by the other side spewing reasons to hate.

The truth is that the people who love our president love the message.  They have worked their whole life to build and save and get ahead, and they feel this being pulled away by forces beyond their control.  They believe their ability to get ahead is being stifled by government regulation and welfare.  They are fighting to save what they love, the ability to get ahead through hard work and saving, and they believe this president’s message is that he will protect what they love.

Ironically, the people who do not love our president are fighting to save the exact same thing.  They want a country where a person who works hard can make a living and care for their family and they also see that being taken away.  People working full time at Wal Mart should not also require food stamps or Medicaid to make ends meet.  They believe their ability to get ahead is being stifled by rich people’s tax cuts and programs that benefit the rich.  They are fighting to save what they love, the ability to provide a system of opportunity for everyone, including the poor, to get ahead through hard work and saving and they are convinced the current president will destroy that opportunity.

By focusing on hate, both sides keep people entrenched in their positions and unable to see the commonality of what they love.  No lasting positive change comes through hate.

I invite you to think about the things that you hate.  Challenge yourself, why do you hate?  What do you love that your hate is protecting? Odds are, you are not really interested in destroying what you hate.  You are really interested in protecting what you love.  Take a look at others who disagree with you.  Put yourself in their shoes and look past what they hate to find why they hate. What do they love that is being protected by their hate?  If we find what they love, it may be something they have in common with us.  From that commonality, we can make things better.

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