Ben is keen to settle the real problem that may arise when faced with dealing with someone who is guilty of a serious misdemeanour. Rachael jokes that if a certain person, Dave, doesn’t get a move on with the jobs they have been assigned they will be expelled. In all seriousness, the principle is to prevent a reoccurrence of the same crime. Punishment is secondary for the clock cannot be turned back and many crimes cannot be undone. All you care about is making sure it doesn’t happen again. Getting them to say sorry and incarcerating them for a period does not guarantee that they will not reoffend. Racheal is keen to recommend that any person who defies the aims and does something terrible would be ejected. However, the others point out they would not want to have a reject from another island landing here, so neither would other people want to deal with their problematical characters. If someone is to be locked up, then there will not only be a timed based system for working out the point of release but also an assessment of the risk of them repeating previous wrong doings. If the probability seems very high, then the release would be postponed. A probation period checking for potential problems is common, but some people are synonymous with the proverbial scorpion and the frog with a sting that is always going to harm others despite any repercussions for themselves. They can’t be helped; the innocent need not pay the price for allowing someone another chance. The priority of potential victims is diminished when we attempt to forgive and forget about nasty events in the hope that the unchangeable will moderate their behaviour.
There is a flood, a major flood and the deluge will soon put the prison completely underwater. Do we release the inmates to avoid them drowning? Many will suggest they do, despite the warning that innocents are liable to be exposed to danger or even death by highly volatile convicts. We have our own morals and they are a personal invention with most of it handed down from the elders. Some fail to see the morality in allowing someone out, knowing that the chance of a major offence on someone who has done nothing wrong will be close to certain. Harsh for the prisoners as they will perish, but people can find justification in their thinking of who they have the greatest concern for. You can put your head in the sand and avoid dwelling upon the plight of all the wrongdoers.
In a similar vein to ejecting those causing trouble, it is not unheard of for people in a nation to get so wrapped up in the utility argument that anyone too old or too feeble gets discarded. Once your usefulness comes to an end you are left on the scrap heap, for nothing eclipses the importance of the supposed prosperity of the zone. There is no room for frivolity, everything is set to expand the grandeur of the bigger cause. Heaven forbid, your form of entertainment, that you foot the bill for, doesn’t meet the latest guidance announced. For their entertainment, their pleasure is truly gleaned from controlling your every move. They love it and get great satisfaction from devising and tinkering with more and more things that you can and can’t do in your private life.
People have suggestions and of course plenty of opinions, some of which appears to need an airing to a wider audience. A few proactive types get enough attention to see things changed. However, if too many are jumping up and down at the slightest failing, the system gets overwhelmed and nobody is heard amongst so much noise. Someone, a person well known can put themselves in the spotlight to promote a cause close to their heart. This is wonderful but in doing so it makes those involved in other worthy causes feel shunned. They do not have the same level of endorsement; hence we can be mindful of anything we promote can be at the detriment of other issues due to the limited space available in what can be brought to the attention of the many.
Some will say that you can pass any laws you like, just do not enforce them. When it comes to taking action, when you see somebody doing something wrong, you have a choice of intervening or walking on by. If everyone turns a blind eye when they see a mugger or thief in action the system breaks down. A small but significant percentage of people who are prepared to get involved is usually positive. If you are not willing to step in from time to time, your community becomes less favourable for you, your friends and family plus your postman, your doctor, your repairman and everyone else that contributes to your way of life. Once in a while when you feel it is right to play your part. You act to keep your island, your corner, a nice place to live.
Amongst the thousands of items to make rulings on will be your criteria for interfering with what is going on in other islands. Do you keep your nose out at all times and let them get on with it or do you try to bring order to what you see as a chaotic situation? You would certainly want a chat with them if they were storing flammable material too close by or polluting the water upstream. It can often depend upon how much it is interfering with your comfort zone. If you become aware that they are beating each other up or witness killing aplenty, it becomes more of a dilemma with no definitive answer. Do you have the means to break up the fighting, will it make it worse and do you understand what the fighting is really over? There is something to be said for steering well clear until you are absolutely sure on all three counts. If there are ten people fighting and you send in fifty to break it up, chances are they will quickly capitulate, and no harm is done to your peacekeepers.
It can seem silly to think of things on the scale of a small island as there will be no hospitals, no government to check the standards and quality of produce on offer. There will be far less opportunity to retire and relax in the twilight years and the power of diversification, people specialising in complex fields is all but forgotten. A decent government can mediate and ensure a reasonable level playing field is kept and provide more real freedoms than a place where things are a mess. It becomes harsh if your personal safety is forever in jeopardy and only the fittest toughest make it through each day.
The simplistic tale of setting up and running a small island could run to thousands of pages and still not cover even a good percentage of all the basic things to consider let alone the finer details. Yet whilst this writing itself is very simplistic, it provides a means to think about what we would do in that kind of situation and then apply it to the problems in bigger societies. When you consider how a policy would be constructed with a tiny number of people, it can be transposed in its entirety to a huge country with a new form of unsophistication.
The one thing you can be sure about is how lines can get blurred. There is never any finality in an argument. Ideas wax and wane and new problems emerge that can’t be envisaged at an earlier time. The thought processes these people had on setting up this island may be agreeable or repulsive but give a hint of the quandaries we face. Either way there is one heck of a muddle and confusion with one doctrine overriding another. We will always be stuck with some difficult compromises and there will be times where better weather outshines frustration with the political framework in deciding what island to remain on. The debates rage on with different intensities bringing up new and old problems into the mix and so be it. The mistake is to think that we are more than just insects building a nest and adjusting to the ecosystem.
Many teenagers pipe up and ask why we need rules at all. A free for all is not outside the bounds of possibility and springs up in places from time to time. A motion for completely private enterprise in all areas has been mooted as well. All work for the disabled and infirm is carried out competently by the charities, businesses self-regulate, and people provide all their needs for themselves. Like all ideas of this nature there are pros and cons, with the cons being troublesome, people free to rip one another off. There will be a vast number of things to sort out, no police but a subscription to a private security force instead to name but one of them.
Claudia has indeed been surprised that we don’t have more lands with a free for all. Rachael is more surprised that there are so many lands with the bulk of the population accepting the current status quo and tolerant of things the way they are. Ben asks how many people have grown up in their community and assumed that everything is normal and just the way it is. We say “they”, they are inventing, they are coming out with, they are proposing and they, this hard-to-put-your-finger-on body, knows what is best for its citizens. You may know no different and haven’t had exposure to other ways, nor have even considered other possibilities. A presumption pervades that this is the how it is and always has been, only ‘they’ have the power to change things. Constitutions have been written, legal frameworks put in place and only a mythical figure could ever realign them to a new age. Who are these great historical characters that set things in place? Many are found to be nothing other than from humble ordinary beginnings with chance and circumstance that put them up on a parapet. There comes a point where amendments or complete rewrites are needed to our statutes, the control structure, that are more befitting of the way things have moved on. The underlying laws of the land can be changed if enough of the right people want it. However, in the same way as only a few people change the name given to them at birth not many want the inconvenience of going against the grain.
No state that we build will be problem free nor perfect in all respects but if you were to start over or repair a system you might consider one cornerstone to be a device that keeps out and dispels any artificial rankings. It is evident that some show great delight in giving some people a ‘type’ and thus having a higher or lower status than the rest. People preserve their caste, class and social orders to maintain the differential for the ruling elite. We like the idea of progression through education and training and we like the idea of being above others merely based on heredity reasons even more, as no effort is required. If you start getting pockets of partisan people bunched together there can be a tendency to sneer at those more afar. Nothing beats a demonstration that we have equal validity and are neither looking up nor down at one another. It is well known that the more we mingle the more we realise that each of us are fundamentally the same, we all eat, sleep and defecate as animals of the same species. The differences between us are more often than not very slight. However, there is a genuine fear at times of those on the other side of the river are playing a long game, waiting for sufficient traction to spring a new way of life on all of us.
Claudia has been exposed to a variety of different cultures spending a good while in and amongst foreign types. Despite the extensive time immersed we may never be able to get our head around it all and never really get to the bottom of why they approach things so differently. We may only see what they want us to see and fail to fathom the complexities involved. The crux of the issue is that the same driving forces bring about completely different ways of doing things.
Dave came up with a couple of ideas, one has merit the other highly misguided. As their children turn into adults, they will be given a plot of land on the island for which to build their shack. Just a small square piece and no assistance in the construction but an approval to build something of a reasonable size. The cost to the community is small, the benefit of having a stake in the island is huge. The repellent idea that Dave proposed is that each person would be given a daily allowance of one coconut, one fish and some bread. This would be applicable to everyone including those with a stack of coconuts piled up high by their front door and fifty fish dried out in their back room. It neglects to take into account that someone has to get the coconuts down, someone has to fish, and someone has to labour kneading and baking the dough. Worse still the reward system only works when you go and do something to get it. People don’t just get lazy and dissatisfied with life, they get greedy and want ever more. Having something to do, compulsion just to survive, is not just about making the time pass quicker it pleases the soul.
The group kept a list of motions that were agreed on by all. Whilst vague were held as being the spirit of the law.
Freedom to leave, unencumbered.
Respect other people’s desire to live or wish to die.
‘What is the harm to others?’ standpoint on doing what you like.
Permit personal property.
Ensure the probability of any reoffence of a crime is negligible.
All people are equally valid in all things.
Contribute a sensible proportion of time, effort or resources for the benefit of all. Many hands make light work principle – enlist every hand/mind possible.
Fixed term chairmanship. No person can linger in the role.
Welcome visitors to view the geography.
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