Rules encourage discourtesy

Rules encourage discourtesy

Walking around the local villages from my home I was struck by the strange effect of pavements.
No, I am not going mad….please bear with me!
Part of the walk is along a fairly busy road which has no pavement. I walk along the side of the road. Part of the walk is on a pavement.
What I have noticed is that when walking on the road when cars drive by one of two things happens, either they slow down and give me a wide berth, or they drive past quite close as if to say ‘get off the road’. They have a choice to be courteous, or to be annoyed that I am inconveniencing them. The point is they have a choice. Given the option to choose, we do so.
Walking on the pavement I noticed that every single car drove really close to me. They were on the road, I was on the pavement. We were following the rules. But why did no one give me a wide berth? I could just as easily stumble into the road.
The rules have taken away their option to be courteous. Something designed for safety makes me feel less safe because it allows others not to think about my safety.
And isn’t this the cause and the effect of rules?
Rules are set up to control behaviour for all the right reasons – to make us safer, and build a fairer society, but they allow us the ability to stop thinking….if we obey the rules then we cannot be wrong.
The more rules there are, the less we have to think. The less we think, the more unsafe our environment becomes.
Rules protect us from the few at the expense of our freedom to live our values.

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