Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Secret Decisions and Stolen Tomatoes

After my optimism three posts back in the shift of the rhetoric about the decision on routine arming of police in the Highlands, I have again lost heart. The first of the independent reviews seems only to have netted folks who said 'we never had any authority anyway, so what do you think we can do?'. Time is on the side of the people in power. If they can stall and stonewall, then they can wear down the reviewers and the reporters and the weary watchers. The news of the referendum will crowd the issue off the pages of the press; the minister and the chief constable--through their spokeswoman--will repeat their only 2%  shrug of the shoulders line as if that were the issue, but as a retired judge recently wrote in the paper, it is the secret decision that is the issue. Or should be.

I am like the geese on the Capitoline--they sounded the alarm for those who would have attacked Rome, sneaking over the hill in the dark, or so the story goes. It is a good metaphor for the defense that ordinary creatures make at things that go on in the dark that should not. Neither the Justice Minister nor the Chief Constable must get past the last hill by stealth. Keep squawking.

And what about the stolen tomatoes? In a community garden in Chicago, someone has been coming by night to steal tomatoes and other produce. How we behave when we think we can get away with it is one of those markers of character--both individually and collectively. Our leaders are supposed to set an example not only in their decisions but also by their character. That erosion of decisionmaking and their apparent character paves the way for that slowly sagging into anarachy that is always the real enemy behind any of these rough spots in governing ourselves.

We need to work that much harder now that many of the things we take for granted are under threat to ensure that we behave by day and by night with regard for old fashioned civility. Don't take things that aren't yours. Take your ethical role in the community--whether as minister or unemployed student-- more seriously than you take your ego or your power or your image.