FIRST PERSON: Like father, like son?
by Tim Ellsworth
Date: Jun 1, 2007
JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)--Josh Hancock managed to dirty his reputation enough in the way he died – with a blood-alcohol content of nearly twice the legal limit.
But now Hancock’s father is doing even more harm to his dead son’s memory.
Dean Hancock, of Tupelo, Miss., is suing everybody even remotely involved in the accident that took his son’s life last month — Mike Shannon’s restaurant, the driver of the tow truck that Hancock slammed into and the driver of the stalled car that the tow truck had stopped to help.
According to a statement released by Hancock, the circumstances surrounding his son’s death “have caused great pain to all of Josh’s family.” He added that as administrator of his son’s estate, he was obligated to represent his family on all issues, “including any legal actions necessary against those who contributed to the untimely and unnecessary death.”
I’ll agree with Dean that his son’s death was certainly “untimely and unnecessary.” But the fault for that lies squarely with his son, and nobody else. I’m terribly sorry for this father’s loss, and I can’t even begin to understand the grief he and his family must feel. Nobody should have to endure that.
But the person responsible for Josh Hancock’s death was Josh Hancock. He’s the one who got plastered. He’s the one who foolishly got behind the wheel of a car. He’s the one who was speeding, talking on his cell phone and not wearing his seat belt.
Evidently irresponsibility runs in the family.
Dean Hancock’s friends would be wise to encourage him to withdraw this lawsuit. He certainly isn’t endearing himself to many people, and he’s only damaging his son’s reputation all the more. Likewise, the attorneys who are taking this action on Hancock’s behalf should be ashamed of themselves.
Since hearing the news about the lawsuit, I’ve read a lot of comments from people who point to this kind of stuff as evidence of what’s wrong with America. Most people are angry about it, as they should be. It’s a glaring case of injustice at work.
Hancock is simply trying to ruin the lives of many innocent people, and that’s horrible wrong. It ought to be criminally wrong, and I hope a judge has enough sense to throw this thing out of court. Of course, the damage will have already been done, as innocent people will have been forced to pay for the cost of defending themselves. It would only be fair for them to file a countersuit to reclaim from Hancock the money he is costing them.
We as a society have zero sense of personal responsibility, and a victim mentality has taken up permanent residence in the courtroom. There’s good reason for that, however – because it long ago took up permanent residence in our hearts.
It’s not an affliction that is unique to America. It’s an affliction that is part of the fabric of our fallen humanity.
Remember this conversation?
God: “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
Adam: “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
The blame-shifting and buck-passing of which we’re all capable began in the Garden of Eden, when Adam blamed his wife – and ultimately, God -- for his sin. We’ve since become masters of the skill.
When we’re impatient with our kids, it’s because they aren’t behaving properly. When we cheat on our taxes, it’s because the government has already taken enough of our money. When we don’t work as hard as we should, it’s because our supervisors are too demanding. And on it goes.
It is right to be outraged over what Dean Hancock is doing. He is trying to make innocent people pay for what his son alone is responsible for. That’s tragic, and unfair, and wrong – no matter how you look at it.
But it should force us to take a hard look at our own lives and recognize the sin present there because of what we ourselves have done. Only then, by accepting responsibility for our own actions, can we turn to God in repentance and enjoy the forgiveness He has provided through the Lord Jesus Christ. Only then, instead of blaming others for our shortcomings and relying upon our own merits, can we rest in His grace.
Tim Ellsworth writes this column from his home in Jackson, Tenn. Write to him at email@example.com or visit his blog at www.timellsworth.com for additional commentary on sports, Christianity, culture and politics.
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