The Price of Fear

Driving home recently I noticed a young lady dragging a very heavy-looking suitcase behind her.  It was swelteringly hot outside, the sidewalk was badly maintained, and she was clearly in a hurry, and my immediate reaction was to stop and offer her a ride.  Instead, to my shame, I drove past without stopping.

Why?

Because I was concerned that she might misinterpret my kind offer as something more sinister and call the police.  Giving a ride to a solo woman is just not something one does anymore.

Twenty years ago I would have stopped without a second thought, so what has happened to drive us to the point where people are afraid to lend a helping hand?

I believe it is because “The Law” has become something that cannot be relied upon to behave predictably and, in the process, has become something that destroys trust and stifles creativity.

“The Law” can be a powerful driver of human behavior, and when laws are permissive and easy to understand, society and business can flourish.  But years of highly publicized frivolous lawsuits has given people justifiable cause to be fearful.  I could give examples but…there is no need, everyone has their own favorites.

In reality, the number of successful crazy cases is small, but they change behavior.  For example, after a highly publicized suit against Microsoft, I was not allowed to keep any consultants on site for more than 9 months, even though it took those consultants between 3-6 months just to get up to speed.  Inefficient and unnecessary, but a response to fear of “The Law”.

Laws that are overly punitive affect us every working day. For example, my job at a brokerage firm entails solving problems, and the Internet is a powerful source of information.  But, many years ago, the SEC put in rules to help curb insider trading. These rules state that all communication must be captured, stored and monitored.  Cell phone technology has since made it so easy to circumvent this monitoring that this rule is now completely obsolete, but the rule still exists.  The net result?  I cannot access websites that would help me do my job, and brokerage houses spend millions of dollars each year capturing and storing unnecessary emails and phone calls.

This is not something that happened overnight, and has been largely driven by our desire to be fair to everyone.

The problem is that as each new situation arises, people feel compelled to create another rule to cover that situation, with the result that “The Law” has become bloated, overly complex and something that no-one can understand.   It is therefore feared by the common man.

I was taught that laws are there to protect our freedoms.  But our current state is not a formula for security; it is a formula for paralysis.

This fear, this paralysis, is costing us in more ways than we realize.  It is costing us in real dollars, e.g. malpractice suits are driving up the cost of insurance and forcing doctors to run vast numbers of unnecessary tests just to protect themselves.

More importantly, it is costing us in lost competitiveness.  The pioneering spirit, that drove America to always be first, has been badly eroded because no-one wants to take chances anymore.  Why bother when any success you might have will just makes you a target for law suits?

We have created a society where mistakes are no longer tolerated.  And, while this sounds good on the surface, the other side of that coin is that we have lost the ability to innovate.  To paraphrase Sir Ken Robinson “Being wrong isn’t good, but if you are not willing to be wrong you will never create anything original.

We urgently need this situation to change…but how?

We need to listen to lawyers like Larry Lessig and Philip K. Howard who tell us that:

  • We need to create laws that can be understood by anyone.  It should be something we can internalize, and should be based around expected norms in society.  We need to replace the libraries of law books with a set of principles and goals that people can agree on.
  • We should judge laws by their effect on society as a whole.  We can no longer afford to run our society by the lowest common denominator.
  • We need to put common sense back into the equation by allowing our judges to be able to make judgments based on what most reasonable people would see as acceptable.
  • We need to encourage fair re-use of content, ideas and technology – to allow people to “stand on the shoulders of giants” and build new things from what has gone before.

We are living in a world that is changing faster than any time in history, and “The Law” will never be able to keep pace in its current form.  If America does not embrace these kinds of changes we will, quite simply, be left behind as the rest of the world innovates and creates around us.

The Constitution is only about 7,000 words long, and seems to have worked well in the past, but only because people were allowed to interpret how this applied to different situations.

By putting the human element back into the equation, we can create laws that evolve naturally.  Such laws would enable us to save money on medical costs, support new business growth, and won’t stifle innovation.

This is my hope.

And, perhaps, if we have the courage to make these changes, we might one-day find ourselves in a society where helping a young lady carry a heavy bag does not carry with it the fear of arrest.

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122 Comments

Filed under Children, Life - or something like it, The Human Condition

122 responses to “The Price of Fear

  1. Raul

    You should have still stopped to help…you are just making excuses…JK…I completely understand what you are saying. I would have felt the same exact way.

    http://www.wutevs.wordpress.com

    • You weren’t JK, it is an excuse. Most of the comments following are excuses. If you feel that you’re that compassionate and caring for others, you’d set aside whatever excuses keep you from doing something good, and do something good.

      • anotherfalsestart

        What if she wanted someone to stop and help so she could take all your mony or something far worse? There are two sides. Me being a single woman, I’d never stop for anyone, it’s not that I don’t care, it’s not worth the risk. I will help someone in daylight pick ul somethings they dropped at a store, but there are something left undone. It’s the law and the criminals that ruin it for us all. No more hitching a ride all over the U.S. without a care in the world.

  2. Very well put and I agree with your statements. The law does have people living in fear, and we have to censor ourselves to keep from getting in trouble or offending anyone. And it does suck when it comes to the point where your are hesitant to help out a fellow human being.

  3. From the top when I read it, I kinda appreciate your concern and how you feel towards the lady. I’ve seen you are a kind-hearted. But here in the place where I am, I would certainly understand that if you stopped and offered a hand, the lady would 99.9% ignore your offer of help. Why? It is not really because of the given law, but it is the initiative of almost every female’s to protect themselves. Who knows if the person who stopped and tried to offer a helping hand is good or bad? Who knows if the following day being fearless you will just be found on the desert, naked and lifeless?

    It is just based on my own point of view, if there is a price of fear, certainly, there is also the price of being fearless. It only depends on the given circumstances.

  4. Just a few months ago, I was helping my son study for an exam on the Roman Empire. We learned that as the empire expanded, its rulers were forced to codify the laws, so that everyone had the opportunity to understand those laws — and thus avoid breaking them. Your post clearly illustrates that we’ve come full circle: we have so many laws, written in such complex and bewildering language, that they defeat their own purpose.

    This is an excellent essay, insightful and clearly expressed. Maybe you should be helping to write our laws.

  5. It’s really is a shame, that United States, for all its good points, is a country that operates on a culture of fear. Never have seen people so afraid, as I have there. Fear has along history, it has been used for centuries to keep populations in check. It’s a powerful tool, and won’t go away easily.

  6. I agree. It would be a welcome change to put the human element back into the equation. 🙂

    Cheers, Niconica
    http://niconica.wordpress.com

  7. Ahna Rebekah Hendrix

    I find it interesting that you, as a man, are worried about being sued and therefore don’t pick up a stranger.

    As a woman, I chose not to pick up strangers because it is dangerous and could result in harm to myself, whether it is a man or woman. The fear of being sued is a dream compared to the fear of being raped.

    Laws are in place because people are no longer trustworthy, and while 20 years ago that may have been somewhat different ~ we now have a whole host of folks who want to take advantage of anyone or anything.

    I am certainly no fan of the overuse of laws in our society, but I understand that we live under these restrictions because of those select persons who never have enough ~ and yet, our country is still much more lenient than the majority in the world.

    Try living in Central American countries where police can pull you from a car if you talk back and beat you with their canes. The “fear” that haunts America is nothing compared to the fear that pervades these countries.

    Americans cry and whine about not having enough freedom or space to do this and that instead of just doing it. We sit around and mumble about the restraints holding us back, yet don’t have the courage to fight back.

    I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault but our own. Laws will always exist and should always exist. It is like the love of your parents ~ because of their love they are able to say, “no” when they should. Unfortunately humans are just that ~ human ~ we are full of mistakes.

    I understand your post and acknowledge your point of view, but I think there is a much larger problem in our country than it’s “laws.”

    As Americans, we are spoiled and believe that we deserve more than we do ~ instead of appreciating what we have. We don’t want to work for anything. Hollywood has ingrained in all of us, a lust for more and more in our material lives and personal relationships.

    We forget just how incredible we have it because this country exists with its head in the sand.

    People have no qualms with trampling one another and taking wherever is possible.

    CEO’s can sit sideways on their massive wallets while their employees barely get by or are fired because there isn’t enough cash to go around. Our legal system can tie up a case for years and drain the savings accounts of those individuals just as fast as our medical systems can.

    Everyone is willing to take advantage of another ~ just to get ahead.

    If American people want change then they are going to have to get off their ass and do it ~ because talking about it accomplishes nothing.

    We only hold ourselves back and if we want to get ahead then we need to stop blaming our setbacks on other variables and stand up.

    Americans wonder why other nations hate us ~ here is a perfect example.

    • It is interesting that you believe I was afraid of being sued. I was actually afraid of being arrested and charged with…who knows what?

      Personally, I don’t believe that there are more bad people around these days than 20 years ago, but I do believe that violent crime is much more highly publicized (it sells newspapers) and it therefore feels as though there is more. Hmmm… that could be a whole new post in itself.

      I am not saying that America is a bad place to live – far from it. But that does not prevent me from wishing it were better. And, if we legislate ourselves out of the global economy, then we may find ourselves in the situation where a dictator can make it into power.

      Having the courage to fight back starts where? With a riot in the streets, or a blog post hoping for change? I think Gandhi would have preferred the latter.

      Thanks for your excellent comments.

  8. Hey Great post, well said. It is hard to do something right when others might interpret it the wrong way.
    -Noor
    http://noor724.wordpress.com/
    🙂

  9. Joanne

    As always….my knight in shining armor! You go ahead and help that next young lady; I’ll vouche that you’re a good guy really. 🙂

  10. Very thoughtful and interesting. However, at the same time, a very complex issue. I get your point about things needing to be simpler, but, as you point out, the state ‘the Law’ is in right now has taken a long time to create, de-creating (not a word, I know) it would be a far more difficult, and let’s face it, slow process because of the very things you mention — fear, greed, hidden agendas, etc. I was surprised that lawyers are advocating for a change that would see ‘the Law’ simplified — wasn’t it lawyers who generally created all the ambiguity in the first place? I feel for you and your concern over not offering the young woman a ride; I live in a rural area and often see people hitch-hiking, I would love to be able to offer them a ride, but a woman alone on a highway is just asking for trouble when she stops to help someone out. Sad, but true.

    • I understand completely. I would probably think twice about this were I a woman. And my wife, who is the most kind hearted person I know, has never offered a ride to anyone while alone.

      “De-creating” would certainly be slow – not least of which because it would require the help of lawyers. The very people who have the most to gain from keeping the system as it is.

  11. Alo

    its a wonderful post! congrat!! i´ve wrote another one if u want to read it 😉

    http://lashistoriasdealo.wordpress.com/2010/07/27/no-leas-este-post/

  12. The world is in turmoil because we have forgotten our roots, and everyone knows that nothing thrives for very long without roots. Trust, virtue, morals, honesty, loyalty – they have all flown out the window. We have become greedy, self-centered people who have forgotten what our country was based on. I don’t care who you call your Higher Power, but if you aren’t living with some basic set of principles and standards, you are only damaging the world, not helping. Great topic. I enjoyed reading it. Thanks.

  13. This is so true! On a really rainy day I always want to offer the poor pedestrians a ride when I see them getting drenched, but I’m afraid for the same reasons. Sad, isn’t it?
    http://www.denwrites.com

  14. I think people want laws because it provides a sense of structure and a sense of order. It is like people waiting for the man to say walk while standing on the corner of a dead street.

    I ask solo women if they need a lift. I do because I don’t like thinking there is someone in potential danger. Consequently, I’ve picked up hookers not realizing they were hookers but the conversation on the way home was great.

  15. I’d say it’s not the law, it’s the lawyers who bring the lawsuits to court and the judges who let them. It’s not just creativity that’s being stifled, it’s humanity itself. Go look at the blog called Free-range kids to see how childhood is also a victim of a society that’s afraid to take risks for the same reasons you point out.

  16. Cool article, I agree there is a big imbalance of fear and (love?); it is quite ashame, but I think we have it in us to be trusting and kind again. I think if we each take responsiblity for ourselves and are open minded and understanding to each other we could possibly become this again. It has been said The Constitution could only work well for a morally upright and conscience people; without getting into the specifics of that, I do agree and believe that the Constitution is more a document of humanity and is a metaphor for the human spirit, you know, unalienable rights, sovereignty, etc. and I chiefly believe that because I think we’re all here to experience life and impede or disrupt no one’s experience, you know, because the world is too abundant for that. But that’s just me. I believe we will one day return to a world where we can offer a stranger a ride with trust and understanding on both sides, and good will. Enjoyed reading!

  17. Reading your post took me back to my last visit to Malviya Nagar (New Delhi, India). I noticed that nice looking guy with a crutch and limp. He was struggling to get an auto. Oh yes, the auto drivers are the big time naggers; greater than women- here. And, it was raining too. I could have offered him a ride to wherever. Shame on me- I didn’t. I was more scared that what if…
    The streets here are not as good, neither are the auto- drivers. I wish, I could have been better..
    God Bless all..

  18. So you won’t stop to help someone because you are afraid of “The Law”? If you aren’t doing anything wrong you should be good. But think of this, when you stop to help someone, maybe they are planning on butchering you up and storing you in their freezer till the next time they get hungry?

  19. Sang Nguyen

    well put!

  20. Great post! We are removing motivation from the human psyche and replacing it with a spirit of conformity that makes polarization across the board inevitable. We need to go back to something simpler indeed.

  21. What about the fear of her being a serial killer? That suitcase could be full of the body parts of equally as generous souls as you.

  22. kulas88

    this is so true.. one time, there was this pretty lady in school who was bringing books with her and she looked like she was having a hard time carrying them. i offered to carry the books… and instead of a please or a thank you… she said i was a pervert. PERVERT for trying to help. sheesh…

    RANDOM

  23. I found your post really interesting, because I’ve always thought that, aside from an auto accident, people are afraid to help others because they fear that the person might be crazy or that it might be a set up.

  24. Go back to the constitution, ban frivilous lawsuits, and keep only the laws that are common sense. That’s what I say. No power mongering. That’s what all these laws are anyway–politiicians drunk on power.

  25. Ursula

    That young lady was probably my own good self, currently washed up on the shores of momentary impecunity thus unable to afford taxis. Still, all that walking does keep one fit.

    Only a couple of days ago I was waxing lyrical to my eighteen year old son and a couple of his friends about the olden days when hitching a ride (thumb out) was easy. One didn’t think twice about it. Then axe murderer paranoia crept in.

    Now children are not “allowed” to speak to strangers; a man has to think twice before stretching out a helping hand. It’s ludicrous.

    As to rest of your article … how long have you got?

    U

  26. Great information! I can relate to how some of us are fearful of the law, therefore avoid acts of kindness such as giving a stranger a ride. For most of us who are not in law school or who haven’t passed the BAR exam, various laws that affect our lives remain “unknown.” This unknown translates to the fear you mention. On the other hand, some (including myself) may act in a manner in which we feel is “right” only to find out afterwards that the law does not see it the same way.

    Thanks for a refreshing alternative view! LB

  27. I’ve faced similar situations where something that could be considered kind could also be a reason for suing someone. When “The Law” stops being an excuse to sue for frivolous reasons and become it’s original, protective guide, then we’ll all be better off.

  28. Very thought provoking. I think you hit the nail on the head concerning the way a lot of things should be handled – the use common sense. Yes, as a kid, it wasn’t unusual to see hitch-hikers. Today? Rarely.

  29. Oops, I missed an “of” there. Sorry.

  30. This blog was a nice surprise. I expected to read about the old time radio show starring Vincent Price of that name.

  31. Hanna Maze

    This is so very true!

  32. “The Constitution is only about 7,000 words long, and seems to have worked well in the past, but only because people were allowed to interpret how this applied to different situations.

    By putting the human element back into the equation, we can create laws that evolve naturally.”

    So you think that EVERYONE should be able to interpret the Constitution to their own understanding? I agree that the law has become a restraint and/or paralysis. But I also believe that it is necessary for it to continue to adapt, as we do. It’s not the law’s fault that people have become less trustworthy. Though it’s unfortunate to some, it’s beneficial for most.

    • I see your point, but I think we have two options.

      1. Allow people to do what they feel is right and, in the event that there is a problem, allow judges to decide based on how society would view this and the simple rules in the Constitution.

      2. People will never know if they are breaking the law and therefore decide to do nothing. Resulting in the only people left that can actually take any form of action being lawyers and the police.

      Personally I don’t see #2 as a better option than #1.

    • The Constitution is something that is small enough that the vast majority of us should be able to read it, understand what it means, and live within those guidelines.

      By continuing to adapt (add to) the law we make it too complicated to do that anymore. Once people can no longer be certain that they are acting within the law the only option left is to do nothing, and that is no way to run a society.

      And, personally, I don’t think the current situation is beneficial to most, I believe this is actually detrimental to most and beneficial to a few – and majority of those beneficiaries have passed the BAR.

      Thanks for the comment.

  33. Interesting post, especially the part about how, ironically, the law is preventing initiative and competition.

    I liked the part where you wanted to offer the woman the ride though. I feel the same too sometimes – I’ll see strangers waiting for the bus even and there’s no one else in my car, and I’ll say, if someone like me offered me a ride, I’d take it, but you just never know.

  34. adventuresomeentrepeneur

    Wow. I think you struck the heart of the matter. Mistakes are necessary as a part of life, it is the cornerstone of innovation. We need more people like you.

  35. Good post.Thank for share.

  36. Ah yes, natural laws designed to foster human thriving rather than human suffering. I like it! 🙂

    With Love and Gratitude,

    The Intentional Sage

  37. I live in South Africa, and although I live in what is considered a good neighborhood and yet no one walks anywhere out of fear. Never mind offering a stranger a ride! It’s actually very sad, it causes a deterioration in a group’s sense of community.
    The level of paranoia has gotten so bad that I don’t even know my neighbor’s name!

  38. Isn’t the world a crazy place when we can’t follow our instincts and DO THE RIGHT thing? How sad and just WRONG? I don’t know if the woman could or would call the police if you stopped and offered to help, or would have actually been relieved and happy that someone CARED, but if you were filled with that much trepidation, I guess you had to follow your feelings! But you are so right that the laws are so bloated with ridiculous protection from lawsuits that no one can get anything done and prosper! America is in a lot of trouble and if we don’t get it together soon, we will go down just like Greece, Spain, etc. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!!

    evelyngarone.com

    • Thanks! I’ll be honest and say I had no idea what Freshly Pressed was until my iPhone started pinging constantly as comments came in – quite a shock, but a very welcome one.

  39. Totally right. People just aren’t the same anymore…

  40. Excellent points about the law. We need to stop making laws to look like things are getting fixed. The problem isn’t lack of law or regulation. The problem is lack of honesty among people. And no matter how many laws you pass, you cant force people to be honest.

  41. It is a really difficult reality to deal with.. She could call the cops on you, she could think you’re out to do something harmful to her.. I know I would not get in the car. I would insist I was fine and could do it myself.

    It’s crappy. I want help but I can’t take it because of the possible consequences either way… I understand exactly what you mean.

  42. If I were a guy I would have stopped and picked the gal up. being a woman I think puts one at a disadvantage for those with ill intent. Each situation has to be judged on it’s own merits. In the midwest we gave people rides or stopped to help motorists all the time.
    Here in Baltimore where a lot of people are carrying weapons it’s stickier and trickier.
    I have picked up kids who are obviously walking to school and can recognize me as a local mom. The ones who have been bussed in with clear vinyl backpacks, a prereq for a high school that is known for fights..I let them get the fresh air.

    http://gmomj.wordpress.com/2010/07/27/great-a-family-wedding-or-welcome-to-fight-club/

  43. tatianababe

    I want to say that I agree, but that makes me scared of what the human race has become. Fantastic post.

  44. I agree with Ahna Rebekah Hendrix, word for word. We spend (waste) to much time whining about what we don’t have, and little or no time appreciating the freedom of being in this country. Imagine living in a country where our every move is dictated by leaders that we did not have the priviledge of voting into office. As far as picking up a struggling pedestrian, have we lost our ability to discern? So much fear has been fed to us that we no longer trust our God given intuition that was a guide for our actions. We have got to do better, be better and not allow fear to separate us from each other. I know that there are some crazy, scary people out there. But if we allow them to keep us separate from each other, then we have lost the battle and the war.

  45. PC

    Great post and great replies, in the last 30 years, the world has changed so much.

    When I was entering the workforce, my father was retiring from it. The world threw off the shackles of Windows 3.1 and embraced email and the web with full force. The telephone and the postal service were banished as the main methods of communication. Life accelerated, now I’m on call 24/7 working with people round the world in different time zones on a daily basis.

    When my mother in law gives me child-rearing advice, I try and point out how that has changed in the interim. When she was back in the 70’s, not an eyebrow would be raised as she sat in the passenger seat, going down the highway, smoking a cigarette and breastfeeding the baby. How many laws would that break these days.

    The world has moved on in many ways but is the same others. Politics never changes. Small government vs. big, progressive vs. regressive both sides interpreting or distorting the constitution to suit their needs. Tort reform is fun, without it the frivolous lawsuits continue, with it the large conglomerates see capped payouts as the cost of doing business.

    But one thing for both sides to consider! Do those recalled toys get pulled off the shelves in the US and get destroyed, or do they get stuck onto a container ship to land at a destination with less stringent safety laws?

    • Great comments (as most have been).

      As for Tort reform, I feel as though that is treating the symptom, but it is not a cure. The cure would be to stop the frivolous lawsuits in the first place by making it easier to claim damages from people that sue speculatively.

      Most things would not be affected by Tort because the legal costs are so high that it is cheaper to settle out of court. And that is just like paying the ransom – a bad idea in the long run.

      Thanks for the comment.

  46. db

    One word… Overpopulation. In the US alone over 300 million currently, as compared to 2 million when the constitution was drawn. Even Jefferson who had a strong tendency towards anarchy realized it wouldn’t be possible in large populations. That’s not to suggest I’m endorsing anarchy either. However the suggestion “We need to replace the libraries of law books with a set of principles and goals that people can agree on.” unfortunately sounds almost utopian these days more then ever. I can’t see to many areas within the law or politics where people can agree on much any more, in fact it safe to say the differences are extreme. Once more “standing on the shoulders of giants” may be counter productive in itself. Though the giants themselves may have been originators, there is nothing original to be gained perched upon their shoulders.

    • Certainly life was simpler back then. But I honestly believe that the vast majority of people (by a large margin) are decent folks that could live together and work things out. Instead we are avoiding taking responsibility and allowing whoever can hire the best manipulator of words to win.

      I do have to disagree with the last point, however. There is little original thought – almost all of it is built upon what came before. This started back when we lived in caves and taught fire to the next generation. Each generation builds on the one before and, without their teachings, we would still be living in damp caves.

      Thanks for the comment.

      • I completely agree. Originality isn’t something that stands alone, it’s always linked back to something… often more than one thing mixed together that created something new.

      • db

        You make a very good point regarding originality. However I believe history has proven the existence of original thought and action time and again, convincingly enough to except that it does stand alone. There are certainly many adaptations built on original concepts, some of which are influential and welcomed, others which over time are scrutinized and cast aside or not. Adaptations are good but usually lack the impact or change in direction that the original concept offers.

        “Each generation builds on the one before” is completely debatable in many respects also and at some point in time one man or small group conceived the idea by accident or aptitude the making of fire, as opposed to looking for it.

        Your welcome, It would be nice to see more blogs like this

  47. Give me time…I only started blogging recently. I have books full of my random rantings however, so stay tuned 🙂

  48. Handsome Matt

    To throw this into the discussion:

    A complex system of laws provide the illusion of safety. Two examples of this:

    I work with youth, and was present for the wide scale institution of background checks for youth workers. Great idea on the surface, if some sadistic pedophile had hidden their past crimes, they’d be caught and fired.

    Here’s the rub: According to the Redwoods Insurance Group’s training video, 96% of pedophiles don’t have criminal backgrounds. But yet we engage in a time consuming, and expensive series of checks to allay fears.

    Secondly, in instances of abuse, kidnapping, and pedophilia; more often than not it’s a family friend or family member. Yet our laws, rules, and regulations are designed to protect against the crazed stranger who leaps out of the bushes and runs off with children. Or look at why many children don’t play outside (I mean really outside, running to the park, bike riding through fields and woods, games until dark outside) anymore. Again, because of some creeping boogeyman who snatches children away.

    • Not to be the contrarian to this argument, but there seems to be a flaw in your case.

      If the aforementioned abuse, kidnapping, and pedophilia is more commonly done by family members, that does not mean that the laws are misaligned. Perhaps the laws provide the illusion of opposition to potential crazed strangers who might have otherwise committed crimes.

      I understand that you contend that the current household lacks many laws ensuring the safety of the children from parents, but consider this also: The author was reluctant to help this lady because of the law. If we set laws separating parent and child, would those laws not become deterrents which may break apart the unity of the family? Isn’t that “paralysis” exactly what we want to avoid in our laws today?

      • Handsome Matt

        What I was illustrating, was not the laws themselves (I understand the need for blind justice) but the illusion of security they afford.

        Parents send their children to camps, day care, schools, programs, etc, and feel safe and secure because we have a complex set of legal requirements that don’t actually catch the individuals they’re designed too.

        And please, be contrarian! How do we learn without being exposed to opposing view points

  49. Everyone has that same fear of picking someone up because of the horror stories for those who did do something about it. Fearless, yes. We are cautious and don’t get involved, because we know there could be real consequences.

  50. Pingback: The Price of Fear « My Buddy

  51. Pingback: The Price of Fear (via Houldsworth’s Random Ramblings) « Hug Me… Will You?

  52. Geoff Leonard

    As my father often says, “Things were a lot easier in the 60s”. This phrase has never left my mind. The ability to act on impulse, without the second-guess of being arrested for unwarranted accusations is now nonexistent. Hopefully, sometime in the future, we will feel encouragement to act upon instincts, versus fear. A well written “Rambling”.

    -Geoff

  53. I’ve noticed this common problem with laws. The intelligent violator seems to always manipulate his way out of the crime, while the naive victim complains about laws being not stringent enough.

  54. karthikeyanblogs

    Its not just America, we here in India have the same problem. Court and police bully a common man. Its for the rich law works here.

  55. I think the shift to our present state is because ‘common sense’ isn’t common. The emphasis in our schools away from human skills and craftmanship to fulfilling the curriculum needs is part of the challenge we face. The push for the possession society that literally forces both parents to work is maybe another.

  56. I wonder if it really was fear of the law or maybe something less tangible; perhaps fear of meeting someone less well of then yourself, or someone in trouble perhaps tears and then pouring her heart out to you, or someone with a mental disability, or someone violent. The list could go on but you didn’ t know her so you didn’t pick her up. The people of this world have lost their connection to each other.

  57. I want to say that I agree, but that makes me scared of what the human race has become. Fantastic post.

  58. I want to say that I agree, but that makes me scared of what the human race has become. Fantastic post.

    http://www.techgrouch.com

  59. First time to visit your blog, really liked and specifically this post, hopefully not my last visit.

    cheers:)

  60. Well, I don’t completely agree with you. Because some people still have faith in others. She might not have done that, But its your fear which force you to think that.

    • I don’t agree with myself most of the time 🙂 I think there is a high chance she would not have called the police – but it was non-zero, so I decided not to put myself in that situation.

  61. Living in the city has always been dangerous, particularly in America. What was this woman doing? You cannot possibly know. You were right to drive on. But consider the Good Samaritan. Do you stop by the roadside? Call for an ambulance? Ask her first whether she has Health and Insurance and invite her, if conscious, to produce her card? What the hell was she doing there in the first place? Drive on? Perm any one of four options. It is not the law but the way we live now.

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  63. “I believe it is because “The Law” has become something that cannot be relied upon to behave predictably and, in the process, has become something that destroys trust and stifles creativity.”

    I’m with you that the law’s growing tendency to act unpredictably causes people to fear, and not act in return. But I also think that humans have become less kindly and predictable toward eachother.
    Do I know that hitchhiking is illegal? Yes. If I see someone struggling along the roadside, would I stop? If I felt safe, yes. Would I change my tune from “Would you like a ride?” to “Do you need help? Is there anything I can do to help you?” Probably. Would I be concerned that the person would call the police on me for offering a hand? Probably not… because if they were really in that bad of a predicament that they were dragging their suitcase behind them in the sweltering heat and hadn’t called someone for help, they’re likely not bound to call the cops on me.
    Perhaps we should focus our energies on living our lives and teaching others to be better people, driven by kindness and common sense. I think it’d be a better solution than asking a bunch of politicians and lawyers to get together and start hashing out just exactly what every law meant in order to put them in layman’s terms…

  64. You are spot-on in your analysis but, accept it: it’s over. All living things, and all cultures and countries, come to an end. The USA, and the whole West, is dying. We must prepare ourselves to bend the neck humbly, and to beg to be allowed to serve whatever no-frills rising power takes us over…

    Unless… wait a minute… are YOU the one we have all been waiting for, to lead us out of the tolerate-any-evil-if-it-is-not-WASP, health-and-safety-obsessed, loony-Left, Marxist-fascist, PC-obsessed mess-up?

    Cy Quick at sumpnado.wordpress.com

  65. Agree with your second paragraph. If I was you, I would have done the same. Offering her a ride would look somewhat bad to her.

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  67. azkaarali

    Awesome read..

    I recently created a blog which is going to cover all aspect of life.Shall be very glad if you visit my one.link is below
    http://azkaarali.wordpress.com/

  68. Hi! I found your blog through wordpress’s listing today. My God… such a long list of comments to scroll down, it seams you’re famous! lol

    I’ve enjoyed reading your post and agree with most of it, but I must confess I’m a pessimist and think the idea of a more humane/flexible law is an utopia and this we will only get farther away from that concept… 😦

    Good read! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  69. We all have ideas about our own responses in said situation. Your post and points are interesting. I would hope I would choose to ask the woman if she needed help, then blog about it.

  70. Pingback: The Price of Fear (via Houldsworth’s Random Ramblings) « Photosworldwide's Blog

  71. I would not fear a person taking the wrong idea from an offer to drive him/her somewhere; I would be concerned about putting myself in a position for a duplicitous person to take advantage of. Blackmail or lawsuits rising from false allegation is likely in our society.

    We have change in the last 20 years. While the base heart of individuals is still the same, we are now an indulgent society where our whims are acted upon. We’re told in explicate and implicate language that if it feels good do it. If it benefits us do it. If it is wrong but seems right, do it. Just do it.

    While our laws are overly complex, I am confident your points about what the law should be would fail miserably. Could you give examples of those points would actually look like in practice (they’re a bit pie-in-the-sky; too general to mean anything in a practical sense). It’s the lowest common denominator that needs to be legislated; those “higher” denominators either never venture out of the law or are above the law, i.e. mega corporations.

    • Certainly such a change would take a long time – and it should because such a radical change would be too much of a shock to the social and business systems.

      But, as one example, how about we start by making laws that have become out of date easier to repeal? I gave the example of a rule designed to stop insider trading that is now ridiculous – but it still exist and cost tens, if not hundreds, of millions (literally) to abide by. By expiring older, non-functional, laws we can start to the clear the muddied waters.

  72. RAllen

    i think that we have all felt that way at some time. like we know that we should help, should say something, should do something, but we are so afraid that it will taken the wrong way, not in the spirit that it was meant. maybe we watch too much of the 6 o’clock news for our own good.

  73. buytupperwarebangalore

    I have just written a book where I have covered “fear” and how it affects us.

    http://mastermindbyrodalangrana.blogspot.com

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  76. everyone know where the Laws comes from..

    but where do justice comes from?

  77. paperwingsxiv

    On the other side of the perspective, you should take a look at “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker. I’m not sure whether exactly I agree or disagree with your post, but, cheers to a good article.

    • Thanks. Fortunately I don’t expect everyone to agree with me – life would be pretty dull if that were the case. I’ll add that to the growing list of things to read when I have time.

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  79. Times have greatly changed and the fear that we now face does cost us dearly but as we evolve hopefully we get past it and become a better human being.

  80. The laws are created by us…it is we who have made us fearful — apprehensive second quesssing any goodness that we can spread around the world. Why do you think this is? Our popular culture promotions would have us thinking that we are all running through the streets naked and carrying weapons of mass destruction. But, that is an illusion. I am not saying that we do not have people on the streets who bare watching this is why we have an internal mechanism called intuition. We rarely listen to it these days.

    • I think the media has a lot to do with this. Let’s face it – scary messages attract viewers/readers, so the media has a tendency to blow these up and ignore the good in the world.

  81. Thanks for such a nice share.

  82. Man I’m impressed with this informative blog, and in fact you hav a genius mind. keep up the good work.

  83. skind4

    Awesome post! thank you for sharing this information. houldsworth.wordpress.com really got under my
    skin, bookmarked… Keep up the great site…

  84. Wow, what a blog! I mean, you’ve just got so much guts to go ahead and tell it like it is. Youre what blogging needs, a wide open minded superhero who isnt afraid to tell it like it is. This really is definitely something people need to be up on. Good luck in the future, man.

  85. Great Video, enjoyed the balance of both sides. Its sad how the US missed the opportunity when Khatami was president. I also recommend watching documentary on the Cuban Missile Crisis with Robert McNamara

  86. Roda

    Hi, while installing a tool bar on my browser I accidentally came across think link. I just checked that it was in the month of July 2010
    where all I had done was leave my link to my website. I now know that
    it was not probably the best answer asking somebody to do their own research but being a person who does not like to be spoonfed ideas I assumed the same holds good for everyone else. I have now stopped by to finish this correctly.
    Every person has about 60,000 thoughts in a day.. many of them negative and some positive. A negative thought is actually the devil
    doing his work in confusing you and I don’t think I need explain a positive thought .. it is self explanatory.
    Now it works like this … we tend to ceate our realities by the thoughts we think …. so when you think in fear a negative thought .. such as …
    I dare not stop to give this girl a lift and fearing a certain set of consequences … you end up creating that reality into your life with that negative thought coupled with fear.
    On the other hand had you thought .. I am a good person with honourable intentions and all I wish to do is help another person in
    need of help and that I need not fear any repercussions … then that is what would have happened.
    You get the drift of what I am saying. Next time a negative thought enters your mind as it inevitably will simply say the words….Devil get off my back. And if it comes again then say it again and again until you dilute the power of that negative thought and it disappears altogether.
    How amazing is that …. bless yourself …get my book MasterMind.

    • Thanks for the comment. I understand what you are saying about creating your own reality, and I do get an awful lot done because I try to follow that as much as possible. I certainly do believe that life is 10% what happens and 90% how you deal with it.

      But if your premise that it is our thoughts that creates our realities is correct, then surely other people’s thoughts play into that too. What if I had thought “I am a good person with honourable intentions and all I wish to do is help another person in
      need of help and that I need not fear any repercussions” then surely that would have worked only as long as the women didn’t think “This person stopping is a rapist”, or the cop driving by doesn’t think “That guy looks suspicious”. Surely their thoughts also create their reality and that has an effect on mine.

      Good luck with the book.

  87. Pingback: Dumb and Dumber: Where Policy meets Idiocy. | Houldsworth's Random Ramblings

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