Thursday, July 8, 2010

Responsibility and Restitution - Part 1: The Girlfriend and the Radio

     So, I've really been enjoying the series of books by Alexander McCall Smith lately. The first book, made into an HBO series, is titled The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. I have thoroughly enjoyed every one of these books. I am enlightened by the wisdom, intelligence, sensitivity and kindness of the lead character, Precious Ramotswe. Her assistant, the ever plucky and highly competent (97% on her exam from the Botswana Secretarial College!) Grace Makutsi is charming as well. Book number 4, The Kalahari Typing School for Men really touched a very emotional chord in my heart; a chord I was surprised existed to the extent that was revealed.
     In this book, there is a man who seeks the services of Mma. Ramotswe to find three individuals from his past. As a college student he was staying with a host family who had been very kind to him. As young and foolish individuals can be, certain events in his life having to do with a girlfriend and a radio led him to make atrocious decisions that would torment him for twenty years. That is, until Mma. Ramotswe tracks down the individuals and smartly helps this now successful and wealthy family man, Mr.Molefolo, confess his wrongdoings, take responsibility for his awful choices, and make appropriate restitution for the whole mess to two individuals. The restitution was costly, but Mma. Ramotswe brilliantly points out that, "I do not think that you can make up for these things cheaply. Do you?" In the end, the man pays out a lot of money, but his clear conscience was priceless. The story ends very satisfactorily and happily.
      Restitution satisfies a wrong doing in a practical, tangible way.It is the ultimate, "Put your money where your mouth is." It almost always follows an acknowledgment of wrongdoing - an apology. One dictionary definition is: a making good of or giving an equivalent for some injury. My response to this beautiful and poignant illustration of this rare-found principle was, well, a real bawl-fest. Yep - I cried really hard and had to examine why I was so moved by this story.
     Just days later, this issue would come to the forefront in all places but Sears. I would be given the opportunity to work through this whole idea of justice (yes, customer service issues again!), taking responsibility for wrongdoings, making restitution, and having a clear conscience. It's rather a humbling story, involving a vacuum cleaner and Starbucks, so I'll save it for my next post. (I have to work up the courage to actually put it on my blog. Ahh...confession is beneficial for the a few days maybe....) Stay posted.

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