Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Important Note For Politicians and Leader Writers

Bad Things happen. Bad Things have always happened. Very probably, Bad Things are going to carry on happening.

Bad Things are not the result of some local and contemporary state of affairs which could, in principle, be changed.

Bad Things would have happened even if the previous administration had not made any errors of judgment; and Bad Things will carry on happening even if you form the next administration. Bad Things are
not the ugly manifestation of a society no longer worthy of the name. Bad Things are not proof that we live in a broken society. There were Bad Things before the Second World War; and Bad Things before the nineteen sixties. There were Bad Things before women started to go out to work. Even when we lived in nuclear families and communities and exerted social pressure through each others net curtains, there were still Bad Things.

When a Bad Thing happens, it is
not a pretext for you to say that everything you have been saying about everything for the last few years has been right; and everything the other side has been saying about everything for the last few years has been wrong. It is most unlikely that any particular Bad Thing has been caused by liberals, civil partnerships, easy divorce, rude disc-jockeys, or the paying of income support to disabled people.

When a Bad Thing happens, please resist the temptation to say "We must make sure that such a Bad Thing never happens again." Because it will. Almost certainly, it already has.

Oh: and there is no such
thing as a "pauper's funeral". Even John Doe gets a hearse, a clergyman, and a marked grave.

8 comments:

Mike Taylor said...

Hmm. I have to take issue with this. Although your general point that Bad Things have always happened and always will happen is obviously true, it absolutely doesn't follow that the trajectory of our society has no influence on the frequency or seriousness of the Bad Things. Anyone who doubts this should sit down and discuss it with, for example, anyone who lived through Pinochet's regime in Chile, the Chinese cultural revolution, or indeed the Spanish Inquisition (bet you weren't expecting that).

So, for example, it seems rather naive to say "it is most unlikely that any particular Bad Thing has been caused by ... easy divorce". Given the obvious all well-documented advantages that children have when both parent live together, I don't see how anyone could think that easy divorce is a good thing _for a society_, however desirable it might be for some individuals within the society.

Then you get into the question of whether the rights, or desires, or individuals, should override what's best for the society as a whole -- but at the very least that IS a question, and not something to be brushed aside lightly as though it couldn't possibly be of importance.

Andrew Rilstone said...

If events have consquences, then a given event's consequences may be postive, negative, or neutral. Somethign which is a good thing in itself (e.g gay marriage) might have a bad consquence (e.g it's more expensive to book a function room in a hotel at weekends.)

But it is intrinsically unlikely that any particular Bad Thing can be traced back to a particular cause; and when someone says that this weeks Bad Thing is caused by their particular Pet Hate, they are almost certainly wrong.

If I slip over on a banana skin and break my leg, it may be reasonable to say "Why weren't you looking where you were going", or "Why didn't the street sweeper clear it away." If you say "Well, it proves what have always said about your need to get a hair cut /a proper job / a girl friend / stop reading those dreadful American comic books" then you will almost certainly be wrong.

And even if everyone looked where they were going and street sweepers picked up disgarded peel, people would still, from time to time, slip over in the street.

In England, it only snows once a year. On that day, the whole country grinds to a stand still, which is local dialect for "some of the trains don't run and some people get to work as much as half an hour late." Presumably, it would not be worth spending millions of pounds and or euros to keep the trains running on that one day. A couple of years back, I heard Christopher-or-Peter Hitchens explaining (on "Any Questiosn") that everything coming to a stand still proved that England was now a Third World country, and that this was due to the abolition of Grammar Schools and the Invention of Comperehensives. He was almost certainly wrong.

Site Owner said...

But the nature of the Bad Things can be altered, as can the magnitude. If you don't think so, isn'tb this (a) fatalistic, and (b) actually unChristian? I mean, yes, to take action under (b) politicians should personally repent rather than fiddle with taxes, but....

Simon BJ

NickPheas said...

I don't see how anyone could think that easy divorce is a good thing _for a society_, however desirable it might be for some individuals within the society.

Some would of course say there is no such thing as society. It's a balancing act isn't it. Is society, assuming it exists, better off with people trapped in a loveless relationship, than with people able to separate. A case can be made for either side.

The better answer would be to make childbearing more difficult, but I can't really see forcible but reversible sterilisations for all teenagers (perhaps just girls to save money) going down all that well.

LibrariAnon said...

Well said, Andrew. This relates to one of those things I hate to hear most, that "Everything used to be better at some point in time that is not today."

Your comments to M. Taylor, in particular, remind me of a Mark Twain essay I read recently, "The Dervish and the Offensive Stranger."

Not only do bad things happen, and continue to happen, despite villifying any particular supposed cause, one man's (or segment of society's) bad thing is always someone else's (or segment of society's) not-so-bad-thing or downright-wonderful-thing.

History and society are extremely complex, so blaming any one bad thing for the (supposed) downfall of society is silly. But that sort of blame does appeal to the (by no means new) large segment of people who simply don't want to think too hard about history or current events.

Greg G said...

Given the obvious all well-documented advantages that children have when both parent live together, I don't see how anyone could think that easy divorce is a good thing _for a society_, however desirable it might be for some individuals within the society.

That's a bit simplistic. You would need data comparing families that would have divorced in our current society but did not with those that could and did, rather that comparing families that had no reason to split up with those that did.

dagonet said...

Simon "site owner" BJ wrote:
"But the nature of the Bad Things can be altered, as can the magnitude. If you don't think so, isn'tb this (a) fatalistic, and (b) actually unChristian? I mean, yes, to take action under (b) politicians should personally repent rather than fiddle with taxes, but...."

as far as one could tell, Mr. Rilstones entry delt with denial of Origional Sin, used as a rethorical device: which, at the very least, quite a few christians have made a point out over the years.
He is not writing against morally responsible action, but hysterical reaction.

"people TODAY have car accidents, & divorces: therefore, we should stone unfaithful wives" would be unfortunatly typical of, for example, our former PMs view of the world.

Sam Dodsworth said...

Given the obvious all well-documented advantages that children have when both parent live together...

So in fact, what we need is not the end of "easy" divorce but a Co-Habitation Enforcement Office with a State Parent Assignment Bureau for widowers/widows?