Andrew Davies: "Look At Me" Season Has Begun
Column By Andrew Davies - ACT Candidate For Piako
The triennial “look-at-me” season is now upon us. Many promises will be made, some even with good intentions, but very little will be said about the most pressing issue we face. From paintergate and fraudulent curriculum vitae to crime and school suspensions, every news bulletin gives further examples of the decline in personal responsibility and that old fashioned concept, good character.
Deep down, we know something is wrong with the heart of our society but all our best endeavours only seem to make things worse. Politicians express concern but are mainly concerned with removing the particular issue from the headlines, usually bowing to lobby groups who demand more “resources”, ostensibly to deal with the problem but in reality only expanding their turf. We are always chasing problems but never catching them.
Many things are blamed, from family breakdown to violence on television but these, although hastening the process, are as much a symptom as a cause. Quite simply, responsibility and good character are no longer necessary. Seventy years of cradle to the grave “compassion” and the willingness of government to do for us what we should be doing for ourselves has eroded our national character and removed the need to govern ourselves. The state pursues happiness on our behalf by protecting us from our foolishness. The theory is we are inherently perfect and only falter because we are victims of our circumstances. This means nothing is ever our fault, someone or something else is always to blame. Without the need for personal responsibility there is no need for personal transformation or even personal control.
Why does this matter? The financial and social costs are obvious, less obvious is something far more sinister. We are either governed by conscience or by the sword, so when we do not govern ourselves we invite others to do so. Some politicians willingly accept that invitation. The notion that humans are perfectible provides justification for trying to make them perfect (in the eyes of the power elite), using coercion if necessary. In short, the decline in personal responsibility threatens our very liberty.
I suggest a different approach. We should acknowledge we are neither perfect nor perfectible. Once we accept that we can focus on what causes us to actually behave responsibly, instead of the other way around. For example, instead of looking at what supposedly causes crime, we should concentrate on what causes a crime free life. This immediately puts us ahead of problems instead of always being behind them.
Rather than more ambulances at the bottom and fences at the top of the cliff we need signposts pointing to higher ground. There are many such signposts so the following list is not exhaustive:
- Strong families based on strong marriages.
- Private property rights, the rule of law, equally applied, and low taxes protect our ability to enjoy the fruit of our labour and so encourage hard work, thrift and enterprise.
- Social welfare that is a trampoline, not a hammock.
- Criminal laws that are simple, enforceable and enforced.
- Schools that encourage excellence, achievement, good character and value judgements.
- Religious institutions caring for their neighbours and teaching character and responsibility. The state must always be secular but society can never be.
- The sterner language of right and wrong instead of therapeutic warm fuzzies.
All the above have a large part to play but, most of all, we should be left more exposed to the consequences of our actions.
In these politically correct times I appreciate these are ideas from the edge, but we should welcome their debate. As our freedom is ultimately at stake, that debate is overdue.