Life Isn't fair. We've all felt this at one time or another.
Even children seem to have an inbred sense of what is fair and when someone isn't playing it straight.
Just look at any schoolyard. Kids know a bully. They also know when adults are overreaching—even if they don't know how or feel powerless to express the injustice.
We carry this sense of justice into adulthood and there is an expectation that our friends, family, business partners, competitors and even our adversaries should all play by the rules.
But what happens when one of those parties (or multiple parties) do not play by the rules? Or there's a misunderstanding over rights, interests and entitlement?
Statistics tell us that a number of these disagreements, regardless of who is technically "wrong" or "right," will find their way into a court of law. The belief is that parties who are unable to reconcile an issue on their own, need a professional judge to make the decision.
It may be that the issue itself triggers a legal need, like the administration of a will among family members or the violation of a contract among business partners. In some instances, litigation is unavoidable.
Or, is it?
Decades of positive results have proven that alternative dispute resolution like mediation and arbitration (Out-of-court proceedings that limit the cost and requirements to resolve legal issues) are highly effective.
They are so effective that they're mandated by law or contract in many states. These proceedings relax legal hoops, limit how long a dispute can continue, and are significantly less expensive than being in court.
Faith-based Alternative Issue Resolution (FAIR)
Some years ago, I was a rookie lawyer in a litigation powerhouse. We had a hotly contested case that had raged for months. The parties did not like each other and it seemed this case would go on forever. Money was not an issue.
One afternoon my supervising attorney called me to his office and told me the matter was resolved. Shocked, I and asked him what happened. He said the parties had met together and worked it out without lawyers.
Still somewhat dazed, I asked if he needed me to begin drafting a Settlement Agreement. He said no. The parties had sealed their agreement with a handshake. No paperwork was needed. Their respective word would suffice.
The backstory is that one of the parties was a devout Christian. Right before the parties met and settled the case, the other party also became a Christian. They agreed they were bound by Matthew 5:25 and other verses that counseled adversaries to settle their disputes out of court.
So they did. With no lawyers, judges, hoopla or ongoing legal expenses.
You may be involved in a controversy with another person of faith or a person of a different faith. You may be spending more time and money than you had bargained for on the issue. You may desire a faith-based alternative to resolving your dispute, just as these gentlemen did.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to acknowledge that life isn't always fair, but as fellow members of the human family, we can choose a softer way to resolve our disputes?
I believe we can.
I believe there's a place for Faith-based Alternative Issue Resolution (FAIR)—a place where we can agree to disagree, yet still resolve our issues without rancor, excessive expense and long, drawn-out litigation.
Let's talk about it.
Wayne Gill is a Florida attorney, community servant and Christian minister. He is available to discuss faith-based alternatives to parties who are interested in applying Biblical principles to resolving their disputes.