We live in a society where we are constantly bombarded by the newest and greatest iterations of technology. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I’d much rather have my smart phone than my old brick phone that only had the snake game. However, with all these new products come this ever increasing desire to have the newest “thing.” Yesterday, Apple introduced its newest flagship phone…the must-have iPhone X. Here are some of the news headlines for this new device’s release:
THE IPHONE X FEELS LIKE ‘THE FUTURE OF THE SMARTPHONE’ – The Verge
MEET THE IPHONE X, APPLE’S NEW HIGH-END HANDSET – Wired
The $1,000 iPhone X Is Just the Beginning – New York Magazine
iPhone X first look: Intriguing, fancy and pricey – USA Today
Apple’s radically different smartphone is called the iPhone X – ARS Technica
Apple reveals ‘leap forward’ iPhone X – BBC News
The above-mentioned headlines are a small sample that showcase the excitement that surrounds new releases from Cupertino, California (Apple headquarters). Now I don’t mean for this post to be against Apple or against technology, but, as an observer of consumers (being one myself), I’ve noticed how quickly we have become conditioned to needing the brightest and newest “thing.” Our technologies today have connected us in ways that our forebears could only dream about. We can send a message around the world instantly. However, despite these amazing advances, we become frustrated when there is the slightest delay in our texts or we lose reception while talking on the phone. We are living in the fullness of times…and yet we too often feel like something is lacking.
I’m reminded of the book Punchinello: You Are Mine by Max Lucado. This book tells the story of little wooden people called Wemmicks who have been hand carved by their creator, Eli. In the story, the Wemmicks begin to obsess over accumulating boxes and balls because having more of these items makes them feel good. In fact, to the neglect of everything important, these wooden people amass more and more until their respective loads of boxes and balls are so great that the loads cannot be handled. When Punchinello, one of the Wimmicks, is asked by Eli if he even plays with all of his boxes and balls he replies that he doesn’t even like them.
Do we focus too much on things and not enough on the weightier matters of life? I believe we do. In a consumer centered society, we will find ourselves, ever increasingly, empty and unsatisfied if we don’t have the right focus. I have had the opportunity to assist many clients through very difficult situations. Some of the most rewarding cases I’ve worked on have involved settling family disputes. By nature, I have a great disdain for familial discord. When asked what type of law I practice, I often answer in the negative that I do not do family law. However, that isn’t entirely true. Much of what I deal with on a daily basis involves family. It might not be child custody issues or divorce, but many of the issues and disputes run deep with family ties.
There’s a saying amongst lawyers that “a bad settlement is always better than a good lawsuit.” There is some truth to that. When I can get families to talk and come to a middle ground, then I think I have done a good thing. Because at the end of the day, it isn’t going to matter much which phone you have in your pocket, the clothes you are wearing or the car you are driving, if you have nobody to enjoy those “things” with.
There is no perfect family out there and some people have legitimate reasons to not want anything to do with their families. However, most of the time, family and good friends are worth more than all the treasures of this earth. And, in reality, most legal disputes involving family can be resolved. In fact, almost all can be avoided with a little effort at the outset. I preach this all the time, but it’s worth repeating, that if you are going to start a business or do a deal with a friend or family, take the time to memorialize your thoughts and agreement in writing…and if necessary, get an attorney to help.
We all know that attorneys are expensive. But, I promise that when a deal goes south or people start fighting over “stuff,” that those who didn’t get their deal in writing are going to spend far more money in the end. Some of you may already be in a relationship that is showing signs of discord. May I suggest, that while everyone is still talking and on somewhat friendly terms, that you work on putting in writing what the “deal” is. For a business, it could be a formal partnership agreement. For a family, it could be a declaration of values. At the end of the day, we could all benefit from focusing our best efforts and the desires of our hearts on what matters most.