Plinky prompt: If you could enact one new law, what would it be? How would it improve society?

As I sit here, I’m still working on the morning tea, and my first response to today’s prompt was, “Oh no, are they kidding? Boring, much?” But I’m cranky–not in the mornings, necessarily–and I knew I had an answer for this somewhere; and it only took me a moment. (What, you asked my opinion on something?)

At first I thought, “How about not enacting stupid laws?” Well, what do you mean there, Spanky? “Laws that hurt people.”

Now come there, hon. Let’s cue the background music. (Most good blogs should have background music. This used to have the actual YouTube file until it got pulled for copyright. No worries–you know how it goes.)

*bad boys bad boys whatcha gonna do?
whatcha gonna do when they come for you?*

If you think about it, one of the main reasons laws exist is to keep people from being hurt by other people: Don’t shoot each other. Don’t hit people with your cars because you were stupid enough to go too fast or to drive drunk. Pay your freaking taxes so we can send the kids to school–all those kids will help support you in your old age, whether they’re yours or not, and it’ll work out better if at least some aren’t at McDonalds.

Laws make societies, whether they are written or unwritten; whether they are enforced by a cop or by your parents. And if you think about it, what they all boil down to is one thing–and getting that through people’s heads is the most important issue facing humanity:

Be responsible.

Be responsible for helping take care of the poor and weak. Be responsible for living within your means and trying to rise from poverty. Be responsible for maintaining the health of your body and not soaking it in poisons which are broadly demonstrated to be lethal. Be reponsible for making a home where your kids realize that school is important; where you read so that they will.

Be responsible for taking reasonable care that your country not be assaulted by outside enemies. Be responsible in allocating the amount of money your country spends on the military, so it is providing security instead of merely allaying fear. Be responsible in caring for what some people call your soul, and seeing that it is nourished by art and music and kindness.

You get the idea. Go into any tacky store and get some posters. I doubt that you’ll find many people who disagree with the general drift. But right now it’s what’s called an ethic, and I would have it be a law–and of course, it already is; but I would have the simple idea underneath ground into us bone deep.

Have our citizens examined, by essay; by commitee; have them account for their accountability. Assign the kids an exam every year where they talk about what the word means and what is expected of them. Have clever posters in every street announcing “Responsible” as if they said “Big Brother” or “Eat our Bad Food.” Teach from the cradle to the grave what the results of irresponsibility are; provide ministries that halp people who have difficulty in maintaining the idea–some gently (Are you mentally ill? Are you truly too poor to pay taxes? Did the schools and the posters and the parents and the exams fail to be efficient?) and others less so (Do you hear the music?)

*bad boys bad boys whatcha gonna do?
whatcha gonna do when they come for you?*

What a better world it would be, if whatcha gonna do is to stand up and look your fellows in the face and say, “I did this. I was responsible; I had a choice, and I went the wrong way. I beat my kids. I chose money right now over my planet in the future. I voted for venal idiots, I hated the different, I twisted my god into my own human smallness. I turned the page of the paper that showed prisoners stacked four to a cell the size of a closet in a country that trafficks in children and lives. I stole what I didn’t need. I helped people destroy other people. I killed that girl. I tortured that dog. I used violence to promote my personal political opinion.

“I shot those people. I watched homeless kids play in the gutter. I avoided paying the taxes which help my society build its bridges and roads and protect me from invaders. I betrayed the trust of those who elected me. I wiped out my company’s pension funds.

*bad boys bad boys whatcha gonna do?
whatcha gonna do when they come for you?*

“And I ran that red light, because I was drunk, and you stopped me because I had already lost my license because I had done this before, and my laws were too irresponsible to hold me to it forever. I was going too fast, and I had dangerous things with me which directly encouraged pain. Maybe not all of them, but still.

“And I could have hit that car and killed those people and wiped out the joy of dozens of people who knew them, and all the good they might have done, because they were responsible–and I am not.”

*bad boys bad boys whatcha gonna do?
whatcha gonna do when they come for you?*

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