Editor's letter: Pro

A worthy cause sometimes requires unreasonable measures

Jurriaan Kamp | June 2006 issue
After graduating from university, I selected my subsequent course of study through a process of elimination. After crossing off various options, only law remained. Law schools in the Netherlands offer a broad curriculum that not only prepares students for a career in the legal profession, but also for corporate jobs and—in my case—a career in journalism. One of the things from my law courses that left a lasting impression on me is the importance of subtle distinctions. Situations are rarely black or white in court, and I have learned that the law revolves around principles such as “reasonableness” and “fairness.”
The legal system exists to serve society and therefore it refers frequently to respect, caution and moderation. I admit that the importance of these values has become clearer to me as I have had more experienced dealing with conflicts. Because the difference between being right and winning in court is vast, accepting what is within reason often benefits your own peace of mind. I have learned a lot from some of my friends, who as lawyers usually do not rush their cases into court but try first to reconcile opposing views.
Sometimes, in my zeal to get things done in the world, I have held this reasonable disposition against my lawyer friends. Yet now that I am older and wiser, I understand that they are sincere in serving a higher interest. That’s one reason why I generally regard with dismay the American practise of awarding outrageous damage settlements in court. Such lawsuits appear to be devoid of any sense of what is reasonable. American society would seem to be far better off if such cases were curtailed.
A few weeks ago I was in Los Angeles and sat down with a lawyer who has successfully argued many of those controversial cases. And I realized that this same “unreasonable” drive—because of which he has already won many trials, and that he now hopes to apply to the issue of climate change—could save mankind. (See page 28.)
I feel this same dilemma in Ode’s mission. Ode stands for social, political and economic change. So why should we proceed gradually and reasonably toward solutions that would ultimately benefit everybody on the planet? Why not take a head-on approach? If, for example, we could produce cars with cleaner emissions today, why should we wait a decade or longer to do it? Sometimes a worthy cause requires that we be almost merciless in serving that higher purpose. The lawyer I met Steve Susman, is convinced that the danger of climate change calls for such a strategy. I believe he is right and respect his courage. And I see that this and other crucial objectives cannot always be attained through the noble ideal of reasonableness.
 

Solution News Source

Editor's letter: Pro

A worthy cause sometimes requires unreasonable measures

Jurriaan Kamp | June 2006 issue
After graduating from university, I selected my subsequent course of study through a process of elimination. After crossing off various options, only law remained. Law schools in the Netherlands offer a broad curriculum that not only prepares students for a career in the legal profession, but also for corporate jobs and—in my case—a career in journalism. One of the things from my law courses that left a lasting impression on me is the importance of subtle distinctions. Situations are rarely black or white in court, and I have learned that the law revolves around principles such as “reasonableness” and “fairness.”
The legal system exists to serve society and therefore it refers frequently to respect, caution and moderation. I admit that the importance of these values has become clearer to me as I have had more experienced dealing with conflicts. Because the difference between being right and winning in court is vast, accepting what is within reason often benefits your own peace of mind. I have learned a lot from some of my friends, who as lawyers usually do not rush their cases into court but try first to reconcile opposing views.
Sometimes, in my zeal to get things done in the world, I have held this reasonable disposition against my lawyer friends. Yet now that I am older and wiser, I understand that they are sincere in serving a higher interest. That’s one reason why I generally regard with dismay the American practise of awarding outrageous damage settlements in court. Such lawsuits appear to be devoid of any sense of what is reasonable. American society would seem to be far better off if such cases were curtailed.
A few weeks ago I was in Los Angeles and sat down with a lawyer who has successfully argued many of those controversial cases. And I realized that this same “unreasonable” drive—because of which he has already won many trials, and that he now hopes to apply to the issue of climate change—could save mankind. (See page 28.)
I feel this same dilemma in Ode’s mission. Ode stands for social, political and economic change. So why should we proceed gradually and reasonably toward solutions that would ultimately benefit everybody on the planet? Why not take a head-on approach? If, for example, we could produce cars with cleaner emissions today, why should we wait a decade or longer to do it? Sometimes a worthy cause requires that we be almost merciless in serving that higher purpose. The lawyer I met Steve Susman, is convinced that the danger of climate change calls for such a strategy. I believe he is right and respect his courage. And I see that this and other crucial objectives cannot always be attained through the noble ideal of reasonableness.
 

Solution News Source

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