No One Deserves a Tragedy

Dear Client:

If you are still having difficulty getting past what I wrote in the last letter about some of the unintended inequities in our legal system, I hope you are sitting down and not holding any sharp objects when you read what I now have to say.

Bad things happen to good people. Rain falls on the head of both the just and the unjust. Nice guys don’t always finish first. Healthy people have heart attacks. The good die young and good deeds routinely go unrewarded. This is just my short list of the inexplicable and senseless realities of life; the long list would fill the pages of a book.

Benjamin Franklin said, “In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.” While I would not dare argue Franklin’s brilliance, perhaps his memory was fading when he made this statement because he clearly forgot something. There is one other certainty in life: just when you least expect it, lousy stuff will happen to you that can neither be explained nor understood.

If I were a gambler, I would wage a year’s salary on the fact that you already have a clue as to what I am talking about.

Undoubtedly, not everything that has happened to you thus far in your life has made sense. And you have at least on one occasion struggled to answer the unanswerable about something you are going through. Why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this? What did I do wrong to cause this to happen?

What has been true in your life will also be true in litigation. I repeat: Just when you least expect it, lousy stuff will happen to you that can neither be explained nor understood.

You may not deserve the lousy stuff that happens to you during the course of the legal proceedings. You may be forced to spend money you don’t have to defend yourself against allegations and accusations that are clearly not true. You may be ordered to discuss the intimate details of your life and relationship in the presence strangers. You may be required to change your life in ways that make it almost unrecognizable.

And you may never understand why what happened to you happened. But understanding why is probably overrated. Because if you have only $1 and a complete understanding of why, you still may have trouble buying a good cup of coffee. Coming to grips with this is not always easy but it is necessary.

On April 17, 2007, I heard poet Nikki Giovanni say something that forever squashed my inclination to feel too sorry for myself for having to deal with difficulties that I didn’t deserve. She was speaking at the Convocation in the aftermath of the fatal shootings on the campus of Virginia Tech.

I have never forgotten what she said:

We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did nothing to deserve
it, but neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS … neither does the
Mexican child looking for fresh water… No one deserves a tragedy.

Since you have done nothing to deserve the lousy things that will happen during the course of your trial you are entitled to a few moments of self-pity. But, after a few moments, you need to get over it. Because while you don’t deserve what is happening to you, neither do the children Giovanni mentioned or every other person on the planet who has endured undeserved pain, difficulties and tragedies.

This is an excerpt from Letter to a New Divorce Client. Download a copy below.

Photo Credit: Visual Hunt

Posted in Letters to a New Divorce Client.

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