Thought For The Day #725 September 2013
Broadcast 25th of September 2013 on BBC Radio Bristol
As a teenager I once spent the night in a police cell for possession of daffodils. Though I should say they weren’t mine, they belonged to a roundabout, a busy roundabout, a busy roundabout on a Saturday night. You get the picture.
The police did the right thing that night and I’m immeasurably grateful to live in a society where law is maturely enforced. But it’s not always as clear cut as that. For instance, the controversial news that Avon and Somerset Police have doubled the number of ‘stop and searches’ in the last 5 years. I can’t help but place that in the context of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks — that governments all over the world have detailed access to their citizen’s private Internet activity. On the one hand this of course means that more lawbreakers are being caught. But at what cost? If Big Brother is watching everything we do then trust, the fundamental ingredient of community, has been lost.
I don’t see trust as merely a noble virtue. You know, like eating your greens or being polite. I think it’s actually an essential part of creativity and problem solving. When we’re faced with a problem, whether it’s local crime rates or global climate change, we need to create a solution that’s never been seen before. Otherwise we’ll just keep going round in circles.
Enforcing existing laws is circular, because it merely punishes people for doing wrong, rather than creating the conditions that inspire doing good. Without faith in the creative process, we fearfully grasp to the same answers that got us into trouble in the first place. No matter how beautiful a roundabout is we can’t drive around it forever.