"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Protecting our children from internet porn - and our personal responsibilities

Surely most parents are concerned at what their children may be able to access on the Internet? 

But it seems that we may be moving towards an Internet where parents have to opt in to "adult content" to receive it, when they sign up for a broadband contract, otherwise it will be blocked. The situation is complicated and varies from country to country, and in the US from State to State. But this is what the UK government want to do. At the moment they have the reverse situation - it is up to parents to block what their children can access on the Internet, otherwise everything is available. But it seems that 4 out of 10 parents are not protecting their children from this content - therefore, the argument goes, it is better to have an "opt in" system instead.
Then we have the inevitable debates about who should hold the responsibility here and people start grumbling about "nanny states."

In an ideal world, individuals should take personal responsibility - of course they should. But it seems they don't. And as I know from discussions around my own first book, which urges us all to take responsibility for this world before it is too late, people don't seem very good at taking that responsibility for what is "right." What is more they don't like receiving any advice, however well meant, on what perhaps they should be doing; how they should be behaving.

So it seems we need the State to protect us from ourselves. Is that right? Overzealous legislation can be dangerous in itself. It can take away from us our individual sense of ethical, spiritual and social responsibility.

We have personal responsibilities towards ourselves, towards each other, towards our communities, our nations and ultimately to our living planet earth Gaia. And of course legislation fails to address our underlying behavioral problems, our selfishness and aggression, our greed and our envy, the seemingly prevalent albeit petty dishonesty among so many of us. Such behavior can cause even the normally law-abiding citizens among us to sometimes ignore the rules and regulations. Simple examples are the widely disregarded restrictions on speeding and the use of a hand held cellular while driving. Such behavior is obviously selfish. It exposes our fellow road users, pedestrians, cyclists, horses, pets, wild life and other vehicles to mortal danger. Why do we do it? Would we change our driving behavior if we knew that every other user on the roads around us was a cherished friend or relation? Of course we would! At least I hope we would! If we always drove with consideration and care and indeed love for every other person sharing the road with us, traffic regulations would not be needed at all. How totally unrealistic given human nature!

 ‘What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility,’ said President Obama in his inauguration speech, ‘a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task. 

Viktor Frankl observed that ‘Being human means being conscious and being responsible.’ He was writing about the very core of our being, our human conscience, and our personal integrity.

The state of being responsible is to be ‘liable to be called to account,’ or to render satisfaction, or to be answerable to someone for something. Isn't it now time for each and every one of us to realize that we must bear our own share of responsibility in the shaping of our world, and then turn that realization into action?

In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama emphasized that responsibility does not only lie with the leaders of our countries or with those who have been appointed or elected to do a particular job. It lies with each of us individually. 

The next day in his Nobel Peace Prize lecture he elaborated on the theme: "The realisation that we are all basically the same human beings, who seek happiness and try to avoid suffering, is very helpful in developing a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood; a warm feeling of love and compassion for others. This, in turn, is essential if we are to survive in this ever shrinking world we live in. For if we each selfishly pursue only what we believe to be in our own interest, without caring about the needs of others, we not only may end up harming others but also ourselves. This fact has become very clear during the course of this century. We know that to wage a nuclear war today, for example, would be a form of suicide; or that by polluting the air or the oceans, in order to achieve some short-term benefit, we are destroying the very basis for our survival. As interdependents, therefore, we have no other choice than to develop what I call a sense of universal responsibility."

 And what about the people who create the porn? 

American eco-poet and Zen Buddhist Gary Snyder once wrote that no matter whom we are and what we do in our lives, we need to

‘Find [our] place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.’ 

So let's do it!

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