The news media is full of recrimination and general hostility towards much of the government policy on lockdown. Listening to the traffic dashing by Bristling Brock’s garden is another reminder that quite a lot of the population are exercising a choice - a choice to disregard the governments pleas to stay at home and prevent the COVID-19 spread. So here we have two facets of civil response to government attempts to mitigate the expansion of viral contamination’s - responses from so called professional journalists and opinion formers across the spectrum to those who have chosen to jump in their cars and not only move about for necessary purposes but have also chosen to do their own thing (at speed if the traffic passing my garden is anything to go by) and flaunt their civil disobedience.
Some wise souls from the past - when Britain truly was a great nation - used to measure the nature of societal behaviour by its preparedness to obey the rule of law. Those that accepted the principle of law - whether they entirely agreed with it or not - generally created wealthier and more agreeable environments in which to live and work. Those that did not live by that principle tended not to flourish so well. A century or more on from that observation we can see our society divided into two particular camps - those that regard the cohesiveness of society and duty toward it as something worthy of preservation and those that have slackened their grip on common good will and any semblance of respect for the principles of law and societal behaviour. It is the curse of the 20th and now the 21st centuries that liberalism has been allowed to run rampant and beyond the frameworks of behaviour set by government. It sounds old fashioned, doesn’t it, to regard government as a guiding force in our lives, even something very unfashionable and anti-liberal, for we have been brought up to recognise our human rights, our equalities, our freedoms to do almost anything we want - the very image of Western Hemisphere life. Yet without effective government we have nothing. We would become anarchic, driven by self interest and eventually destroy what little of our social structures remained. Looked at from a different angle, the constitutional duty of government is to protect its citizens first and foremost, establish an environment in which it can create frameworks and strategies that lay the bedrock of those protections. It’s far from perfect, almost inevitably, as conflicting demands dilute the effort in any one direction. But the rule of law should be sacrosanct. That’s not to say that the citizenry of the state should fear the law - as they possibly might in places like Russia, China and North Korea - but they should respect that it is there for a purpose. It is the very substance of how societies function, it provides the boundaries, the creed by which we live our lives and the responsibilities and duties that every citizen is born with. Life is not a free ride, it carries a weight of duties, tasks and obligations upon each and every one of us - the very stuff that makes societies function within certain parameters of acceptability. Obeying the rule of law is fundamental to each member of our community.
All this is not to blithely accept everything government mandates - parliament is the forum for challenging and disputing the efficacy and wisdom of government decisions - and in normal circumstances that is where the resolution and amendment of grievances toward the rule of law is made. Nothing is inviolate, even the rule of law, but it’s principle is inviolate if not its content.
So, to all those who have decided to increasingly abandon the notions of staying home whilst this national crisis occurs and disregarded their birth-given obligations to accept the guidance of government, you may get away with your selfish behaviour for a time but the time will come when you also wish to invoke your rights under the law. What price the rule of law then ? Will you be yelling from the rooftops that you are being treated unfairly ? The rule of law is for everyone, it’s what makes nations what they are - and we need to shake ours up pretty robustly.