So last night I was listening to the radio, NPR from from America to be precise. Two items really stood out. The first was all about the issue of border control and some hare-brained wall-building scheme or other, and the second was about legislation regarding abortion with all the usual nonsense being bandied about by the pro-whatnots. Now before I go any further I would like to make the following thing very clear:
*This post is not about either border control or abortion!*
These are both the kind of topics which get more than enough hot air pumped out and neither is really worth anybody's time or effort discussing here. So zip it.
Anyway what struck me about the treatment of these two topics was the overall attitudes and worldviews expressed by the various protagonists. Actually let's face it this was public radio, everybody was an antagonist. With regards to the border control it was something to the effect of: "Well we can't have people coming here and working without papers so we are going to clamp down on employers taking on illegals over the Mexican border" yadda yadda yadda. Interestingly there was no explicit logical appeal such as "They are stealing out jobs" or anything, it was pretty much just "Well that's the law, we can't have people working without papers". I'm sure anybody can fill in details for themselves about border crossing and immigrant labour and the poor in South America etc. And the abortion issue, well I'm sure you know exactly what was said on both sides so I won't repeat it, it's been done to death many many times over.
Anyway what struck me in both these cases was the underlying general assumption that the speakers held that they in fact had any say whatsoever over other peoples lives. Think about that phrase carefully for a moment... Does that uppity guy in Texas or Colarado or wherever really have any say in whether or not some poor (in both senses of the word) mexican is allowed to come and work for a living on the other side of some imaginary line in the dirt? Of course there are laws against it we all know that, but fundamentally where do people get this notion that they have any right to say what other people can or cannot do? Take the abortion. Now the whole country's population must be prevented from having access to abortion because a few religious nuts say so (again this is NOT an invitation to discuss the merits of abortion, I know perfectly well that I am glibly skipping over complex topics but it is all in aid of a completely different point so sit tight and read on).
All of these concepts stem from a very fundamental view of the world, one where people believe there is this need for there to be "laws" so everybody knows what is "right" and we can punish the "bad" etc. Essentially people believe that because a whole bunch of them supposedly elected some other arbitrary person or persons to be there "leader" in a democracy, they now personally have a say, however tiny, in everybody else's lives. You now have this magical power where by "exercising your vote" you can have some minuscule effect on the lives of everybody else who lives within that tract of dirt you call a country. Why?
The fact of the matter is that the concept that people normally refer to as "government" is only allowed to exist because it doesn't interfere too much with everyday life. In as much as it does interfere, it is totally, and rightly, ignored.
Take traffic laws. I often walk with people in car parks. Some people gladly walk around without taking the slightest heed of the large chunks of metal moving around them because "pedestrians have right of way". No. Some piece of paper in a government archive somewhere has some words to this effect. This piece of paper is however totally wrong. It fails to acknowledge the fact that people don't run over cars. But people like to trust it because it makes there life simpler. More black and white. Less thought is needed if the "law" says that you can hapilly walk in front of cars and they will always stop for you. And so it is with much of the law. People like to have it because it makes them feel safe, but in reality it is only a collection of words on paper. You still have to think for yourself at some point.
I know I may be rambling a bit and it is getting pretty late so I am going to give it a break for now. I hope I haven't said anything too stupid and I apologise for not putting a bit more effort into structure, perhaps if anybody would like to chip in some editing that would be great.
How's that for a topic equusaustralus? Current Mood: high and mighty