Are we ever to blame for our misfortune?

Fiona Slevin and Carol Galvin of Supermac’s with toys from the Supermac’s Annual Toy Appeal. All toys were safely delivered to St Bernadette's Paediatric Ward in UHG.
Fiona Slevin and Carol Galvin of Supermac’s with toys from the Supermac’s Annual Toy Appeal. All toys were safely delivered to St Bernadette's Paediatric Ward in UHG.

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

If someone burgles your house because you left the window or back door unlocked, do you at least have to share a portion of the blame?

The thought occurs on the back of a recent analysis of burglaries across the country showed that in almost a third of burglaries intruders gained entry via the front door.

To be precise, front doors were used in 29 per cent of cases with most burglars using the force of their own body to break in. In almost one in five cases the burglar gained access via an unopened door or window.

Equally, can you be said to have played a part in the theft of your own car if you leave the keys on the hall-stand within sight of the letter box?

And yet Gardaí reported 163 cases of “fishing” — where keys are taken through a letterbox — in the past year. Three quarters of fishing cases were reported in Dublin.

Legally of course no one is entitled to enter your home without permission, irrespective of whether or not you have triple padlocks or a wide-open swinging gate – but surely you have to take some responsibility for your own fate?

It’s the degree or culpability that’s at stake – in the moral more than the legal sense – in that there has to be some measure of the part you may have played in your own misfortune.

If, for example, you contract cirrhosis because you’ve been drinking a bottle of whiskey a day for as long as anyone can remember, should you still be entitled to a liver transplant?

Is there a difference between someone who is predisposed to diabetes because of family history and someone who is susceptible because they are chronically overweight?

In other words – and this might not seem terrible humane – are there circumstances when tragedy befalls us that we must also accept it is at least partially our own fault?

If you leave your wallet or handbag on the passenger seat of the car, you shouldn’t be all that surprised to find it gone – and the window broken – when you come back. Equally you wouldn’t leave your bike up against the railings without putting on a lock.

So if you go away on holidays and leave the bedroom window ajar to let the air circulate in your absence, shouldn’t you accept that this just too much of a temptation for the observant burglar to walk away from?

What if you’re involved in a car accident which, for the most part, wasn’t your fault, but you still played a part in because you were distracted – by the children, by the phone, by changing the radio station, by a wasp – when you should have just been driving?

After all, you wouldn’t be comfortable to find a surgeon was distracted by domestic strife while he or she was operating on you – so how could you then tolerate someone who isn’t concentrating on something as straightforward as driving their car?

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.