I was going to send this out before Christmas but decided to wait until the festivities were over. The point of this blog, as the title indicates, is to stress the importance in society of anchor points, a phrase my erstwhile colleague, Colin Bell used when we were discussing some of the content of the epistle. Perhaps this content is something ponder over the coming year, and a document you may like to share or forward to friends, as I believe it makes a few points about the future of this state, country and, possibly, the current social structure of many parts of the world, particularly those where what we classify as ‘freedom’ (for example, ‘freedom of speech’) still exist. If this in any way moves you, whether positively or negatively, again, feel free to reply or better still, share and see what the results are,
I walked past the sign (pictured right) out the front of a local house today.
I’d seen it posted outside a number leading to Christmas and it begged the question, ‘what happened to the word please?’ Why would Santa, however, benevolent that character may towards children, stop because a three, four or six year old commanded it.
Is it appropriate that adults role model to young people that it’s okay to think they have the authority to command rather than request? Is it indicative of a decay in manners and social relationships.
That led me to think of other examples, such as an increasing attitude that smacks of ignoring authority by no longer stopping at stop signs; simply slowing and cruising through them. What about the many people around where I live having no qualms about ignoring watering restrictions and using sprinklers any time and day they choose? And the other day at the local Puma Garage, a 4WD drive pulled in, the driver put in some petrol, and then gunned the engine and disappeared up the highway without paying. I quizzed the attendant as I paid as to whether he wanted the licence plate number. He told me he had it, it would be reported as he did with the ten to twenty incidents like it he had each day, but the police rarely acted on such trivialities as they were too busy dealing with billion dollar drug imports, racial violence and murders.
What stood up in my thinking over the past two weeks is that we’re in an environment of massive change in terms of social order, with same-sex marriage as a bastion of equality, economic upheaval between nations as a signal of increasing disorder, increasing legislation being necessary to deal with road rage, violent home invasions and robbery, home violence, and you can add to those without to much trouble if you wish. And while these things are happening, we are losing and not replacing the things Colin called anchor points; those traditions, rules and values that stabilized our community through until the nineteen-seventies. I am not proposing a return to the ideas of that era, by the way, such as the traditional concept of no sex before marriage (or, if it happened and became obvious, that wonderful image-creator, the ‘shotgun wedding’ that followed.)
But I’m suggesting that before we get too much further down the road of social change, we must start re-defining traditions, rules and values, including penalties for not adhering to these, that we believe are essential to social and economic order.
What is a potential consequence if we don’t, I hear you ask?
Two hundred and forty years ago, white people came and settled or conquered (depending on your point of view) this country. It was, for Aboriginal people across Australia , a decades-long tidal wave of western influence and control that several Aboriginal people have termed a holocaust. And a consequence of that holocaust was the gradual loss of traditional anchor points, reflected today in the attitudes and behaviours of many Aboriginal youth, lost between their culture and western culture. And for those who say they shouldn’t be the sole example, I agree. Whether I think of black and white cultures, old and young, male and female, immigrant and Australian cultures … there’s a grey area emerging where there are no anchor points. If we want to avoid the experiences of Aboriginal people, it’s time to start setting anchor points in more ways than just by focussing on equality.
My final point is that I have nothing against equality, provided it is seen, always, as equality of opportunity. But when we focus on results or outcomes, then the concept of equity (meaning justice) must prevail, otherwise the grey area will grow and gradually darken until it’s pitch black, because equality does not generate anchor points.