Friday, 4 July 2008

So animal a human

It is argued that one of the fundamental divisions between the natural world and we who seek to control it is our ability to reason, to tell right from wrong. As Mark Twain said rightly: Man is the only animal that blushes - or needs to. But blushing would imply that the one embarrassed realised that they were in the wrong, morally culpable, etcetera; today's society simply doesn't. Indeed, it seems absolutely furious, outraged, when its bad behaviour is challenged. Retired servicemen are kicked to death because they ask louts on buses to refrain from swearing. Beware those playing ghastly music on their mobile phones or littering: you'll be stabbed. Many times. Knife crime is reaching epidemic proportions in this country: the government, and even Boris Johnson, of whom I'm very fond, thinks that an amnesty is the answer. It isn't. The answer is to instill in the young that rights only come with responsibility. That they're culpable for their actions. That respect begets respect. That life is not cheap: on the contrary, it is priceless, their lives included. Children are being allowed to run riot. They are simultaneously so hemmed in by the 'do-this-do-that' culture and kept too much at arms' length by adults, who are terrified of being accused of paedophilia or dismissed from their posts if they attempt to protect themselves from being assaulted. In other words, children are being prioritised above and beyond those who have experience of life and have learned moral lessons: adults. This bizarrely inverted relationship is hardly healthy. And, as the news breaks that yet another child has been stabbed, it is obvious that the balance must be restored.

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Life is to be lived, not controlled, and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat -Ralph Ellison