Saturday, December 21, 2013

Affluenza. . . it may be fatal

The story goes like this.  A teenage driver killed four people in a drunk driving accident.  In his defense, he cited the adversity of affluence that he had to bear throughout his life.  Afer a psychiatrist testified that he was a victim of his parents’ wealth, the judge decided to give him a reduced sentence -- probation.

In case you live in a cave and think I am making this up, no... really.  Such are the facts...   Prosecutors said the boy was driving seven of his friends in his Ford F-350 on June 15 when the car collided with a group of people on the side of the road on the outskirts of Fort Worth. They were Breanna Mitchell of Lillian, Tex., whose car had broken down, Brian Jennings, and Hollie and Shelby Boyles, who had come to her assistance, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. All four were killed, and two passengers in the truck were critically injured.

Prosecutors had asked that the boy be sentenced to 20 years in prison, but Gary Miller, the psychologist who testified in his behalf, recommended counseling. Miller said that the boy had an unhealthy relationship with his wealthy parents, who used him as a tool and a hostage to extract concessions from each other.
Meanwhile, they neglected to teach Miller that dangerous behavior could have serious consequences, according to the psychologist.

“He never learned that sometimes you don’t get your way,” Miller said. “He had the cars and he had the money. He had freedoms that no young man would be able to handle.” He used the term “affluenza,” which describes the ennui and depravity of certain very rich people, and which was popularized by psychologist Oliver James in a 2007 book by the same title.

The boy will be sent to a private home near Newport Beach, Calif. that offers intensive therapy. His parents will pay for the therapy, which can cost $450,000 a year or more.

I have an idea.  Lock up the kid in prison and he will see the consequences of his actions -- perhaps too little and certainly too late to benefit the four who died because of him.  Oh, and, by the way, take the money the parents would have spent on counseling and give it to the survivors of the individuals who were killed.

Affluenza is not a disease or even a disorder.  It does not happen to the disadvantaged but to those with every advantage and it is a choice about how to respond to what you have or what has been given to you -- or even to what you earn!  As has oft been said, the devil's most effective deception of the soul and persecution of the faithful is not suffering, want, or loss but affluence, abundance, and prosperity.  Now, it seems, a psychologist has codified the devil's tool and removed it from the realm of sin to make it an illness.  And a judge has apparently agreed.

The only illness here is sin.  It cannot be dealt with by counseling -- only by the death that pays its price and sets the sinner free.  We don't need to apply the Gospel here.  We need the full force of the Law and others with mild or serious cases of the dreaded affluenza need to wake up and smell the roses.  Once ownership of the sin has taken place and contrition has begun under the aid of the Spirit, the Gospel can speak.  It will heal the wounded soul but it does not erase the earthly consequences of our actions.  But if for this brief life only we suffer, thanks be to God!

No comments: