Thursday, February 12, 2015

Thought for the Day

Thought for the day as delivered at BBC Radio Bristol this morning following the announcement that in Durham breathalysing students is being considered, for their own safety:

How protected do you want to be? Freedom to do something daft which may cost you your life. Or a nanny state with kid gloves and cotton wool.

What steps should we take to stop young people hurting themselves after a night's drinking?

Ban alcohol.

Ban universities.

Two stupid extremes. But they help us place ourselves in the sensible middle, balancing over-reaction with turning a blind-eye.

The Bible begins with this. A universal story that goes back to human origins. A garden with only one rule. One dodgy tree. One forbidden fruit. Everything else - fine.

It is a story of there being certain limits on freedom. To save ourselves from hurting other people for sure. That is why we can no longer smoke where it might make the innocent unwell.

But also to save us from ourselves. You take too big a risk getting behind the wheel of a car if you are intoxicated. Too big a risk with the lives of others and your own life.

So why not go one step further and only allow the sober near dangerous rivers? Breathalyse the students before allowing them to walk home by the water.

That Bible story is the account of why, once one rule is broken, more rules need to be introduced. The first people, thrown out of Eden eventually need judges to settle disputes, kings to rule and page upon page of laws of which the ten commandments are but a summary and today we have more rules about vegetables than the Bible had about violence.

We only need one rule. Use your common sense. Trouble is, it is so uncommon that what it means to be sensible needs to be clarified from time to time.

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