Last Friday I published a gently read post from last year about the ridiculous warning labels that manufacturers feel compelled to print because we, the citizens of this planet, are stupid. How else could you explain needing to explain that you should remove the child before folding a baby stroller? If I neglected to do that I would have to put a warning label on my wife’s shoe. “Remove from derriere before sitting after folding child in stroller.”
I am really not excited to report that we are not getting any smarter but the folks at Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch are having a blast chronicling the slow and agonizing death of common sense. This year’s winners of the Wacky Warning Label Contest are in. The contest, now in its ninth year, is conducted to reveal how lawsuits, and concern about lawsuits, have created a need for common sense warnings on products.
So enjoy this years winners starting with the runners-up.
- A cocktail napkin with a small map of the waterways around Hilton Head, South Carolina carries this wise advice : Caution – Not to be used for navigation. Maybe Gilligan and the Skipper had a couple of Mai Tais and used the cocktail napkin on that three hour cruise.
- The $250 second place award went to Jam Sardar of Grand Rapids, Michigan for a label on a kitchen knife that warns: Never try to catch a falling knife. Everytime a knife falls I end up at the emergency room! What is wrong with these knives?
- Kirk Dunham of Seabrook, Texas gets an honorable mention for a warning label he found on a bottle of dried bobcat urine made to keep rodents and other pests away from garden plants. It says: Not for human consumption. That might be the most unnecessary label in history for yours truly. This human would use gloves to even touch this bottle.
- Another honorable mention goes to Lyne Anton of Elk, California who found the following warning label on a baking pan: Ovenware will get hot when used in oven. Really? I noticed pans get hot in the oven too. Maybe there is a trend here…hmmm.
But the grand prize winner goes to a heat gun and paint remover that produces temperatures of 1,000 degrees and warns: Do not use this tool as a hair dryer. I would suspect that you would figure this out relatively quickly. “Honey, is that ovenware getting hot again? I smell something burning. Never mind, dear, I just melted my hair. I wish they would have warned me not to use a paint removing heat gun on my head.”
“Warning labels are a sign of our lawsuit-plagued times,” said Robert B. Dorigo Jones, M-LAW president. “An unpredictable legal system – in which judges allow anyone to file a lawsuit on almost any theory – has created a need for product makers to plaster wacky warnings on everything.” Humor columnist Dave Barry wrote about this trend. “Fortunately, I live in the United States of America, where we are gradually coming to understand that nothing we do is ever our fault, especially if it is really stupid.”
And these warning labels are a sign that too many of us are unwilling to take any personal responsibility for our actions. We are the culture of “not at fault”. There is “no fault” auto insurance and “no fault” divorce. A child learns to say “it’s not my fault” right after they learn to say “no.” The “not at fault” mindset has crept into the body of Christ as well. For too many people nothing is ever their fault. We seem to have lost the ability to simply say “I was wrong. Please forgive me.” Instead we do the dreaded apology light. You know the syndrome. Some people can only say the words “I am sorry” if that phrase is immediately followed by a gigantic but (that would be one “t”).
Whenever I see or hear the gigantic “but” I tend to discount the apology.
I am sorry but I was having a bad day.
Forgive me for my words but I was really tired and not feeling well.
I shouldn’t have reacted but the other person was rude.
I overreacted but he pushed my buttons (whatever that means). Blah, blah, blah, blah.
We have allowed our American idea of rights to infiltrate the church. The confusing of rights and responsibilities is a dangerous trap for the body of Christ. Basically, being responsible for our actions is an act of love and obedience. Clearly we have a biblical responsibility to love one another. The Apostle John has some insight.
If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both. (1 John 4:20-21) The Message
The command is indeed blunt. Noted Christian author A. B. Simpson once noted that “a good way to test your love to God is by the way you treat your brother…God is more concerned by my conduct toward my brother than by my prayers to Him.”
Jesus said something similar to the Pharisees: “Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.” (Matthew 23:11-12) The Message
I want my life to count for plenty. I am willing to take responsibility for my actions. If I am stupid (make that when I am stupid) I am willing to say I am wrong, I am sorry, and no buts about it.