We live in an increasingly litigious society.
A number of years ago a memo from our national church office alerted us to the fact that some American ministers had been taken to court because advice given in a counselling session hadn’t saved the marriage. It seemed so remote and American - but we needed to be careful how we phrased our advice and, if possible, to keep our record of such sessions.
Some eight to ten years ago, a school teacher told me it wouldn’t be long before no teacher would take children on excursions or camps bcause of the increasing risks of litigation.
Recent court cases and the new insurance premiums have announced to us that the new age has now arrived.
"Who will deliver my baby? or perform the life-saving heart surgery?" may be the immediate questions. In the longer term, we wonder what all this might do to the nation’s health bill - and to the cost of private health cover.
It seems that common-sense, mutual responsibility and trust need to be restored in our society. I am saddened that some Australian legal firms are following their American counterparts and offering to take on cases on a "no-win-no-pay" basis - a blatant encouragement of the suing mentality.
We need to accept more common-sense, mutual responsibility and trust.
Jesus began his ministry by calling for people to "repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand."
Repentance isn’t a little "Whoops, I’m sorry!" Rather it is a change of direction towards God and leading to a change of life-style. That puts us under God not over against and fighting one another.
Yes, there needs to be adequate compensation for the victims of negligence and irresponsibility. But something seems to have gone seriously wrong. Something is striking at the very fabric of our society, all because none of us is able to take reasonable risks any more or to accept reasonable responsibility for our own actions.
The solution is simple, but not simplistic - "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand."
Eternal Lord, give us wisdom in our decisions today. Help us to lead the Burdekin community towards common-sense, mutual responsibility and trust. Help us to make this a safe place in which to live, a wholesome place in which our children will grow, a community that is conspicuous by its openness and care for others. Help us to live in our society together as those who know that finally you call us to allegiance to a kingdom that is above and beyond all earthly aspirations. This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

© Peter J. Blackburn, Burdekin Shire Council Devotions, 8 May 2002