Scotland is staring into the abyss of social collapse. Too many of our young people are caught up in a maelstrom of drug- and alcohol-fuelled promiscuity, hedonism, vandalism and outright nihilism. It is a whirlwind, which we will reap for a long time to come.
We are paying the price for denying too many of our young people security, stability and morality, a price paid in shattered lives and broken children. Yet as the human debris of our failure accumulates, our politicians have become paralysed by a chronic fear of moralising. In place of leadership and a moral compass, a stifling political consensus seems to compel our parties and our parliament into ever more frenzied regulation.
In recent weeks much coverage has been given to the decision by the Scottish government to limit sales of alcohol to young people by increasing the selling price through restrictions on a variety of retail offers and by asking local authorities to consider raising the age for alcohol purchases. This policy mirrors the approach taken by this and previous administrations to drug use, vandalism, anti-social behaviour, obesity, even promiscuity, and might usefully be called the “command and control” model of public governance.
Advocates of such a model take the view that “bad behaviour”, whether it be public drunkenness, health-threatening over-eating or teenage promiscuity, are all immutable and unchangeable. The urge and desire to commit acts of this type cannot be curbed, far less removed, goes the argument, therefore public, social and health policy must all be orientated towards mitigating the effects.
It is an approach that is deeply flawed and utterly discredited. It is also, however, the logical destination for a policy that refuses to judge or differentiate between actions conducive to the public good and those who threaten it.
When our fellow citizens err and lapse, we seldom focus on them or ask why they behaved as they did. Rather we rush to impose legal restraints, forgetting that no external restrictions can ever match the effectiveness of self-restraint. When a toddler is shot with an airgun, we regulate the sale of such weapons; alcohol abuse by our young people is met with legislation to restrict sales, and sexual promiscuity with regulations aimed at ensuring contraception and abortion are widely available. We do not as a society take action to tackle the underlying motivation; instead we limit our action to blunting the impact of our excesses. We obsess over the symptoms and ignore the cause….
Like the manic sorcerer whose spells have gone disastrously wrong, our politicians cannot control the urge to cast yet more spells upon the chaos. It is an approach that seems to be driven by moral cowardice and perhaps because the alternative, to admit they were wrong, is far too frightening….
If the bolded sections above do not explain the West in a nutshell, I don’t know what does. Read the whole article by Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland. It’s fabulous.