From trickle-down economics to trickle-down recklessness

The rule of law has slowly but surely been making its way for the rule of privileges, big and small, where lawlessness grows together with the feeling of not being “watched” fairly and consistently. Hence creating systemic havoc

Shall we linger till life tears us apart before the penalty fits the crimes of drink and reckless driving, rock throwing at cars, carjacking, armed burglary with or without actual violence, or any other offenses undermining our existence directly or indirectly for that matter?

It would be hard to meet any resident, citizen or visitor today who would claim not to be wary of experiencing a potential abuse, assault or danger of any sort whether inside or outside. It simply does not work to single out what goes viral only, or to resort, singly, to hardcore punishment or, helplessly, an outright ban – seemingly our favourite response.  Above all, simple-minded binaries and the pa-mwa-li-sa game must be invariably shut down.

 Subconscious nudges designed to change our attitudes anywhere tend to be more efficient than awareness campaigns. For Biju Dominic, CEO of behaviour architecture firm Final Mile, even a nudge in the form of a change of name can work. “When you call it the Mumbai-Pune ‘Expressway’, it gives people the impression that the road is meant to be sped on.”

There have been a few voices flagging the predictable mess in the wake of the global rat race since the 1980s. While some countries have managed to contain the overwhelming drawbacks, we have miserably failed. The very foundation of any functioning society, the rule of law, has been weakening and most among those expected to uphold the spirit of our institutions and set the conducive example have flunked.

The rule of law has slowly but surely been making its way for the rule of privileges, big and small, where lawlessness grows together with the feeling of not being “watched” fairly and consistently. Hence creating systemic havoc. When bad behaviour trickles down it sours life for all. Road rage being one of the symptoms with devastating impact.

Even those who feel sheltered will end up catching the virus. Alternatively, civic sense is an act of reciprocity that not only boosts our dopamine levels and makes us feel good, ultimately it contributes to national contentment and indeed overall better performances anywhere.

One last reminder: we shall only have ourselves to blame should we refrain from acting towards bullying our leaders into living a life of zero tolerance to bullshit, including their own even more critically. For good. “Unfriending” self-absorption, self-service and all the viruses that feeds on it shall trigger a promising start.


* Published in print edition on 24 August 2018

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