Standing up for yourself may require action

STANDING up for what is right often requires conviction, action and expending a bit of physical energy.

In this week’s Beaudesert Times we have a story about two little boys who saw someone’s wallet lying on the road and took the necessary steps to return it to its rightful owner, complete with the money it contained.

The response on Facebook was overwhelmingly positive, with readers commending the lads for their honesty and although some were surprised at children doing the right thing, perhaps it was triggered by a vague memory of their own childhoods when the concept of fairness was simpler.

It would be great if adults could take a simplistic view but sadly there are those who work hard to earn a living, live a law-abiding life and still end up on the losing end of a seemingly inefficient justice system.

We are all so pleased by children who have learned the meaning of right and wrong but less surprised at news reports of people who commit acts of violence, vandalism or theft coming out of court with little more than a symbolic slap on the hand.

It may be that we have become less interested in justice and more interested in seeing punishment meted out in accordance with our own values and experiences.

Most of us have lost money or valuables in a similar way, so how surprised would we be to read that someone had found a wallet in the street and given it back, minus the money?

Would a story about someone who spent money mistakenly deposited into their account as a result of a banking error generate shock and outrage?

We do not all have law degrees, so it might be easy to lose faith in a system where criminals seem to get away with breaking the rules simply because of a bunch of legal regulations that make no sense to us.

This week we also have a story about Law Week and an information session to which nobody turned up, even though it was free of charge. This was surprising because the law can be complicated and knowing how and where to get advice could be invaluable.

Just as losing your job and finding yourself unable to pay the bills does not mean a nice man from Centrelink will knock on your door offering grocery vouchers and health care rebates, neither can you expect unsolicited assistance in matters of justice.

Sometimes you have to ask some questions and find out what you need to know.