Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Fence

An Analogy that Might Have Relevance in The HRC World

There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence. Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper.

The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that he was done being angry. His father then suggested that for every day that he held his temper, that he take a nail out of the fence. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that the nails were all gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said: "You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you said things in anger, they left a scar just like these ones in the fence. You can put a knife in a man, and then take it out. No matter how many times you say you're sorry, the wound is still there."

What I take from this analogy as it relates to our beloved HRCs/HRTs will surprise you possibly. Every time, an HRC/HRT processes a Complaint, they allow a Complainant to hammer a nail into the heart of a Respondent. Conversely, the Complaint process hammers a nail into the heart of the Complainant as well. I have never heard of a Complaint that has ended well, though I am sure that some have. It is such an arbitrary process, stacked against the Respondent, that the likelihood of a joy filled conclusion at the end is small.

But the process, which rewards the Complainant almost always, diminishes the Complainant, while it belittles the Respondent, because it takes away his/her/their humanity as well, and puts the power over it in the hands of the state.

We have a process that drives nails into 2 combatants, for that is what they are, combatants, though one does not have to do his own fighting, thereby locking them into position during the fray. On conclusion, when the nails are removed, all is well. No, all is not well, and never will be well. Both sides leave a little, to a lot, more jaded, not salved and healed by the process, because it is a punitive process.

The Respondent can hardly walk away feeling good. The process has cost him time, money, self respect, dignity, and has made him hate government meddling in his life more than at any time previously in his life. The Complainant has walked away with an award he might collect, and an order for something to happen that might look good on the face, but it will be done for or to him with no love, just duty, and there is no dignity in that.

You can take the nails out, but you can never take away the scars and the original wound.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I couldn't help a furtive snicker at your notion of a "joy-filled conclusion" to a Human Rights Complaint.

Kind of like an ecstatic outcome to a fatal car crash.