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Please, Thank you and Sorry - Truth and Trust are the founding principles of civilisation

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

Is our civilisation cracking?


Earlier this week I was picking my son up from school at about six thirty - on the way home coming round a bend there is a fast approaching car. I pull over into the hedge because it is a very narrow lane and to my surprise, the other driver, a younger man, makes no attempt to slow down and as he gets very close - I am stationary in the hedge - he drives by me and sees he has to slow down and passing - hits my wing mirror, making no attempt to stop or apologise. I have my window down and shout "Oyy" - He then stops and I say "Look - I am stationary and you were travelling pretty fast and hit my wing mirror and didn't stop. I am expecting an apology - but I get instead a massive tirade of verbal abuse reminiscent of an angry Sargent beasting a recruit on a parade square. He then accelerated away still swearing and gesticulating.

As I listened and watched the reaction from my 14 year old son who witnessed the whole altercation, it left me with uneasy thoughts, mostly about the society we have become and what the future holds for coming generations.

I should confess, I am not a small guy and still possess a physique and ability to - well certainly defend myself. I am older now and will not jump to confrontation as the first reaction but ashamedly I found myself wanting to lash out at this young man. It was as if he won but cheated to do so.

A similar altercation happened to me two years ago, but a bit more serious because the guy that time actually physically attacked me and I allowed him to and did not respond, which however grown up, left me feeling like a wimp. I reported it to the police but of course, the days we live in - they came and took a statement but did nothing. How the Suffolk Police Force has changed. Perhaps it is the same for all Police Forces countrywide.

It seems unfair though and leaves one with a sense of injustice. On both occasions, I would have been fine with an "I am really sorry". Perhaps I should have just clonked him one and been done with it. But we are a civilised society and have laws and the "thin or very thin blue line" which is so thin that perhaps is the reason it appears not to work so well now, would most likely have come after me.

I recall a similar incident to which I was an observer; there was a lorry-driver's strike and I had been out of the country for most of it - a week if I recall. I was returning home via my brothers flat in London, having just flown into Heathrow. I had a cup of coffee and was looking out of the window down at a garage with pumps.

Because of the strike, there were massive shortages everywhere. A very long queue of cars wanting to fill up had built up all the way down Sloane Street and on down Fulham Road. As I watched, a car tried to queue-barge because a lady in a range-rover had to reverse in order to make the turn into the pumps. She hooted her horn - the queue-barger got out of his car, came up to the lady driving the range-rover - lent through the window and punched her in the face, to which a taxi driver, plus a couple of other drivers gallantly came to her rescue and a fight broke out. All of this right outside a police station but, like girlfriends and bus's - not an officer in sight.

Half an hour later I went down to a Europa 80 store on the ground floor of this block of flats, which I think is now a Sainsbury's mini-mart, only to witness two men dressed in suits having a fight about who got the last loaf of bread in the store.

We are complacent about our law and order and take our civilisation for granted at our peril. It is wafer thin and fragile and needs constant guarding, nurturing and upholding - and leadership by example.

Whenever people feel no need or desire to take responsibility for their own actions - that is the moment our society becomes feral.

If you take away accountability, let alone the knowledge and feeling of responsibility; the desire to get along and keep peace and progress moving forward, then surely civilisation is doomed.

The responces and actions of these examples above - the behaviour break-down are only minuscule examples but serve as a warning of how quickly civilised society could break down.

the reactions and behaviour of Mr Danny Baker, who last week posted a picture of parents walking out of a hospital holding the hands of a chimpanzee and referenced it to Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, The Duchess of Sussex and the birth of their son was not just thoughtless, it was cruel and unkind, and his lack of contrition just went to highlight his refusal to take accountability and made him look both foolish and weak.

The language and actions of Donald Trump; these are only examples but that is the point - these people are meant to be examples - setting examples for others to follow. Instead, they foster a bad example which can only encourage others to behave badly.

I don't by any means blame Trump for all the ills of today's world, but he is such a vivid and current example of all that is wrong with so many leaders of today. The behaviour of Trump and his ilk cannot but re-enforce bad manners, unkindness, self-first or selfishness. `coupled with a stubborn refusal to be accountable for his own actions, for untruthfulness and out-right lying.

So, though minuscule, as I said, the foul-mouthed man who drove so recklessly and selfishly is not held to account. So whilst bad or poor behavior is not necessarily against the law - if our leaders are behaving in this way - it makes it very difficult to hold others to a higher standard.

So we have to ask questions - when people in power actively try and defend the indefencible as they do routinely in the Senate and our own House of Commons, when poor behaviour is not held to account, when the power brokers are more interested in themselves than seeking to serve the common good, where does this leave society and civilisation? And - what is our own part in this?

Have a good week and take care.


Rick - Suffolk - UK - 11th May - 2019


rick@notesfromengland

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