I’m sitting next to Alf as he drives his car. Alf has a variety of moods but could generally be called polite and reasonable. Sometimes in his car he forgets this and suddenly starts shouting out, “You bloody fool. why don’t you watch what you’re doing” or something from the unprintable catalogue of phrases which I cannot reproduce here.
I have had this idea that we all have little bubbles on the roofs of our cars so that such remarks could be seen by all and sundry. Two possible results spring to mind. The first is that road rage nearly vanishes as people realise they are accountable for what they say and phrase things more comfortably.. The second possibility is that the road turns into a dodgem or bumper car experience,
The truth is we speak like this because we are not accountable and so we say what we are thinking without any editing. If we took this approach into general life a whole medley of results would be possible but few of them would be orderly. Our thoughts are much wilder than our speech or actions, giving us an exterior more civilised than our instincts would suggest. Recently there was a television programme in the UK where the behaviour of nurses in an old people’s home was exposed as brutish and bullying. The point is, the residents were largely beyond complaining and the nurses, unsupervised, gave in to primitive temptation. Not all of them it must be said, but a significant number.
I am a reluctant fan of accountability. It holds the wild man in check and makes the world a safer place. Where accountability ceases to be so evident man is capable of acting in way which shocks and appall us. The horrors of Nazi Germany, and currently some of the antics in Libya by the Gaddafi clan spring to mind. Against the background of man’s ability to disappoint himself stand out examples of selflessness and heroism which are remarkable given the general trend but the opposite is often the case.
What this says about us I am not sure, but it often seems to be the case that the deeper you plunge into space or the ocean depths the more alien existence appears. This may be true of our own psyche. The primitive being within us all lurks stealthily waiting for the chance to express himself. Wether he should be given a greater sight of the sunlight or be walled up in conventions and codes of conduct is a question I often ask myself. As with deep-sea voyaging, or space travel, few of us are given the chance to explore or express our deepest instinctive psyche. Accountability, either from above or from societies expectations seems to hold us in check. In these circumstances I wonder if “not be able to express oneself” may be a greater benefit than I originally imagined.
Like all explorer’s, some return from their voyage with tales of adventure and the spoils and mementos of their experience. Those who voyage deep within themselves can return with some great insight, or through words, paint or music record the experience of their adventure. Thus I wonder who do we pity more. Those who stay on the surface of things, avoiding all reference to the depths within, or those wild adventurers who cannot but explore those unlit twilight zones and find themselves sacrificed on the altar of discovery.