By “savages” I don’t mean primitive peoples, all of whom have laws, morality and their own cultural values, some of which would put us to shame. The worst savages in recent history, and in our front living room were the German Nazis, whose absence of morality, contempt for law, disdain for the very civilised culture they had the good fortune to be born in, wilfully caused mass murder, torture, and the deaths, mutilations, and trauma of millions more who fought to defeat them. How on earth did this happen in Germany, prior to the Nazi takeover arguably the most technologically and socially advanced democracy in the Western world? And Germany lives with the stigma of the Nazi’s behaviour to this day. Generations of innocent Germans, who are in no way responsible for the actions of their ancestors, must live under the shadow of the greatest shame of their nation’s history.
We don’t want to forget this lesson from history bought at the price of so much suffering. We definitely don’t need to repeat it.
I was born in the fifties to civilised parents who believed they were living in a civilised society. My upbringing was standard for the time. We were not allowed to run amuck, although we could play freely in the surrounding fields where we couldn’t do any harm. We were not allowed to interrupt adults conversations, which carried the benefit we learned a lot from listening to them. We were taught to be polite and have consideration for other people. If we found an interest that we could do on our own without bothering anyone else, we had the utmost encouragement to do it, whether it was reading, painting, model making, gardening. Self-sufficiency was a virtue. There was nothing worse than being thought a “baby” whether by adults or other children. We were taught to respect everyone, the only exceptions being criminals and yobs/anti-social, who do not respect others.
Seemed good to me.
Along with these values we respected “authority”, though we rarely met any first hand. When we did, we expected to be treated with the same respect with which we treated them. And that was usually the case. Customer complaints were treated courteously, the situation looked into, and if the complaint was justified, an apology given and the situation corrected.
It isn’t the 1950’s any more. In 2014 how does life compare? Nobody trusts anybody anymore. You have to guard your speech in case some hyper-sensitive politically correct neurotic imagines that some word you said is offensive to someone. Neighbours are driven mad by the anti-social behaviour of other neighbours – behaviour that in the 1950’s would have labelled such people as “gutter class” and beyond the pale. Landlords would issue warnings which would be carried out if ignored. The police would respond, take note and take the issue seriously. This is a large area of life where civilisation has retreated and the civilised are forced to live among savages. This affects huge numbers of people. We all live somewhere. The present day authorities are noticeable by their absence, only making an appearance when they have dreamed up some minute, trivial, petty, totally unimportant issue to harass you with.
We are harangued, herded and harassed. Not so much treated as peasants, as treated as cattle. You treat other people with courtesy and are mocked in return.
The criminals are protected, and the law-abiding left to fend for themselves. The police and the judiciary seem to side with the criminals.