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Mar 13, 2018

Policing in this country is carried out with the consent of the people. Thankfully it does not exist as a branch of government in order to keep us under control - as in some, and perhaps too many, other countries - it is created to uphold the laws of the country on our behalf. Now this might seem like pretty heavy stuff for so early in the New Year but bear with me.

Quite frankly, if we universally refused to accept this state of affairs then police forces would find it impossible to maintain the rule of law; anarchy would ensue and as a result we would all be much unhappier. Of course it does not necessarily mean that we will always agree with every single one of these laws, but generally we acknowledge that the best way to conduct our lives is to acquiesce in an element of give-and-take. Notice that I have used the word ‘generally’ because there are always a small number of individuals who refuse to subscribe to this way of dealing with our social covenant.

The most important point to realise here is that this mode of living has not suddenly occurred out of the blue, but comes about as a result of hundreds of years of trial and error, revolutions, bravery, false starts, common sense and compromise. Over the years our ability to co-exist has slowly evolved and, although not perfect, it still continues to do so.

Quite recently I was talking to the man at our local paper shop; and we were talking rubbish (no, don’t say it!). He told me how he lived alongside the busy A22 London to Eastbourne road about 4 miles out of town. His problem was, that every morning he had to go out and clear up discarded ‘jettison’ from his grass verge. On average, he said, there were 11 items, the majority of which carried a logo which emanated from a company with a Scottish preamble. His problem, he went on to say, was that he was situated at just the point on the A22 when, having purchased their comestibles in town, people would have finished consuming either their hamburger or their measure of complicated coffee. Unfortunately, these items were surrounded by disposable packaging, and by this I mean disposable through a car window.

‘Nil desperandum’ I thought on the way home - I didn’t actually, but maybe it sounds impressive. The A22 is a very busy road with literally thousands of vehicles passing by our paper shop man’s house every single day – and only 11 pieces of rubbish? You would think that this unfortunate individual should be

more than knee deep in detritus? No excuse of course; but doesn’t this prove that most of us are dealing with our rubbish in a civilised manner?

I remember being taught when I was young that by spoiling things for other people, you are also spoiling things for yourself. The vast majority of the population abide by this convention, so we are not really ‘going to hell in a hand cart’, and I know of course that there appears to be a scourge of fly-tipping at the moment, but again this is carried out by a very small minority. To put this another way, the large majority of us still conduct our lives with a large degree of pragmatic common sense.

The late great Tommy Cooper often used to start a joke by saying something like: ‘I’m going to tell you a joke, in fact, I can’t wait to hear it myself!’ Well writing an article is a bit like that. Sometimes you find yourself inexorably drawn to a destination other than the one which you originally intended.

I had no intention of bringing up the subject of ‘political correctness’ when I started but I cannot escape the thought that this doctrine runs contrary to the tenets of what I have previously written, i.e. the evolutionary power of common sense. I am not quite sure from where the various edicts of PC emanate, sometimes they make sense and sometimes they are simply daft. Maybe there is a ‘Wizard of Oz’ character somewhere, issuing a stream of proclamations which represent their own prejudices and maybe this is what Frank L Baum had in mind when he wrote, what is often considered to be, an allegorical story. The one thing I do worry about is that unless the power of common sense is allowed to flourish, then this will lead to a degree of frustration among the populace at large and that’s probably why so often you hear individuals beginning a sentence with the defensive words: ‘I know it might sound politically incorrect but ….’

It’s a thought!

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