Friday, October 28, 2005

Dinner Party Truth

You won't find much truth hiding out at middle class dinner parties but that doesn't stop them being good places to put the world to right. Had a massively long discussion last night about the relationship between individual freedom of choice and corporate responsibility.

The Alcoholics Anonymous 12 step programme isn't only, for instance, about personal responsibility but 'turning your life over to God as far as you understand him.' Then you apologise to those you have hurt. It is both/and.

A good friend of mine argues vehemently that it is not a pub's fault if someone purchases enough alcohol to kill him or herself. Neither, he would say, is it a burger joint's fault if a person who is not that hungry chooses to go large for 30p. I wanted to say a big yes to personal freedom of choice but to add to that a responsibility on those whose businesses will kill you if taken to excess, or in the case of the tobacco industry kill you whatever, to see the world through bigger lenses than the size of their profits.

Today we are not good at taking responsibilty for anything. We want someone to blame. Another irregular verb is born:

I am getting retail therapy.
You are a shopaholic.
He is a greedy spendthrift.

But the fact that there is no-one else to blame doesn't mean there is no-one else involved. If you are bad at making choices I ought to be willing to help if you want me to.

The truth is probably a balance. Yet another chance to stand on a soapbox and shout 'I am a moderate, reasonable and well-balanced.' Oops. Fell off my soapbox. Clumsy of me.

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