I listened to an interesting debate on Radio 4’s The Moral Maze tonight. It is a programme I always enjoy for the detailed discussion of ethical dilemmas but I know it makes me sound a lot older than I am. (I will confess to being a Radio 4 listener.) The subject tonight was about behaviour and when it should be regulated by individuals, communities or the state.
The essential element of this for me is the importance of us considering others and adjusting our behaviour in public accordingly. If we are with a group of people who dislike swearing or shouting then we need to be aware and adapt our actions. It shouldn’t need any kind of legislation or enforcement for this to happen. I end up going back to the fundamental element of society which should be about people treating each other as they would want to be treated.
We don’t spend enough time considering our impact on our communities or society as a whole. Instead, we just rush through each day and if we are not careful become overly obsessed with our own activities without looking around us. Day -to-day tasks take our time and I am not sure we really look at our own behaviour and assess what impact it has.
The population continues to increase and we are living in closer proximity than ever before. This means we cannot ignore our role within our neighbourhoods. We have to start to see ourselves as part of a geographic group and to adjust our behaviour to keep that place. There is no way we want to be left isolated from society. We all want to feel involved and connected.
This is a tough conversation to have and I wonder whether we are still talking about behaviour, manners, our place in society and being considerate in a way that we did when I was at secondary school. We had life classes that covered many things and included some discussion about how we are members of society and what that means. If we can’t talk through the issues then when people are forming their views then I fear that we will never find a place to talk about it.