“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Socrates
While it may be difficult to know if in fact Socrates actually wrote those exact words, the concept they encompass certainly seems reasonable, if not inspired. Why spend so much time worrying about and focusing on the past, when you could, instead, find ways to move forward and make the best of a situation? Trying to change the past is like trying to fix a flat tire by rolling the car backwards to get off that nail…it just doesn’t work! The better solution is to get out the jack, get out the spare, and change the tire! Or find someone to help fix it. In short, focus on finding a solution to the problem at hand, rather than exhausting yourself trying to undo what can’t be undone.
How much time do we spend fretting and arguing, especially in the legal world, over what has happened? Some might say that, from a legal standpoint, that’s the majority of what we are doing…it’s what we are supposed to do. We are supposed to get to “the TRUTH.” Yet, in actuality, whatever has happened is water under the bridge, and often, the better approach is to focus on moving forward with solutions that make situations bearable or even better for all the parties.
For instance, a recent seminar discussed the creative methods utilized by the Maine Drug Courts, where they take a team approach to address somewhat competing issues of public safety and drug addiction. In those cases, defendants meet directly with the judge and other team members on a regular basis as part of a drug rehabilitation plan. As perpetrators, they are held accountable for their past actions, but as human beings they are treated with respect and a level of understanding moving forward. Defendants are supported through the process, with an eye towards recovery and hopefully a new life that doesn’t involve criminal activity. It’s a win-win for everyone when it works! Given the ever growing drug crisis in the state, these special courts are balancing the need to address serious criminal activity with the reality that addiction is often a major contributing factor to the behavior.
Someone mentioned at the seminar, “Wouldn’t it be great if all our courts could be like that?” Would we get different or better results if, in an ideal world, a supportive team could come in and help to resolve all litigated issues? Would people who felt wronged choose to forgive, rather than litigate? Would wrongdoers see the error of their ways and change their behavior? While such an approach is not likely to solve all legal woes, the concept of moving forward with solutions is always a winner. That’s why it doesn’t really matter whether Socrates actually wrote those words or not…the point is how we use them.