I was interested in an article on the BBC yesterday. It reported a study into how people view the justice system and where their responsibility lies in tackling bad or criminal behaviour. It seems that Brits did not do well in the survey and were the most like to abdicate responsibility. I could comment on many things in the report and I think it is a sad indictment of our society if it true, but I was struck by an interesting sentence in the article that said
Crime has become so "nationalised and politicised" that the home secretary and the prime minister are held responsible for every assault
I think there is a lot of truth in that sentence and not just in relation to crime, but in a lot of other areas too. If someone is stabbed, if a document is lost, if a database fails, if companies go bankrupt, if people can’t afford to pay their mortgage… somehow it is all the government’s fault. I’m not trying to defend Labour and I mean government in the general sense rather than the one that is currently in office, but it seems that somehow any failure is entirely the fault of those in power. But surely life is so much more complicated than that. We like to think that we are autonomous beings, but somehow we are unwilling to consider that we might somehow have some responsibility in those things too. If someone loses their house it might be due to redundancy or some other unfortunate event, but equally it might be that they took out a mortgage that was beyond their means and they gambled on the economy remaining buoyant. The economy normally goes in cycles of prosperity and recession and if you rely on things always being good that is a very short term view. Clearly it is terrible if someone loses their home, but sometimes we do play a part in that.
Equally with crime, whilst the amount of money the government put into policing and other crime related issues plays a significant part in tackling offending but equally so do we – do people know where their children are? Do we protect our property adequately? Do we report crime? Do we intervene when we see a crime being committed, if only by dialling 999?
I just think that sometimes we see others, particularly politicians, being the root of the problem and forget to wonder what we could do to make a difference.
I know it’s a bit of a cliché but there is that part of me that thinks that, at least in part, something Gandhi said is the answer:
“Be the change you want to see in the world”