Sunday, 11 October 2009
A Coconut Tree Moment
Mid afternoon coffee and cake on the veranda. A man shuffles up a forty foot palm tree directly in front of me in search of coconuts - no harness - no fear. All he has to do is avoid a slip and he will be just fine. The man's flippancy and carefree attitude towards such a death defying act, got me thinking.
In my place of birth, Northern Ireland, people used to be free to take chances. I look back on my childhood with somewhat rose tinted glasses, remembering a time when there was such as thing as an accident - people allowed themselves the luxury of bending rules, to obtain what they wanted.
On a recent trip home, I spent a full year living and working within a system that I barely recognized. The workplace, and society at large, was a place where people where tripping over themselves, not to literally trip up. Accidents, it seems, have become a thing of the past. Now, as a result of a greedy a manipulative legal system, borrowed from the US, there is no such thing as an accident.
"Where there's blame, there's a claim."
I tried to explain this eventuality to a Thai friend and he was very confused indeed.
"But, what do you mean if you fall in work, it's not your fault?" was his perplexed response.
I might as well have been speaking Swahili.
A man in work, climbing up a tree with his own consent in Northern Ireland, would sadly now cause a large degree of nappy wetting. In fact, I could imagine it becoming front page news in a local newspaper, the headline reading:
"Man sacked, and jailed for deliberate and shameful health and safety violation."
One could picture the scene with police, ambulances, fire engines and rapid
response, yellow jacket wearing, private security experts on the street all looking skyward with a look of disgust of their faces.
"Where are his hat, goggles, and safety net"
"Does he have a climbing license from the local council?"
"Just who does he think he is?!"
At what point in the future will a beacon of rationality reveal itself and say:
"Enough of this bullshit. what have we become?"
Depressingly, Probably never.
The precedent has been set. The ball is rolling, and people are making real money out of common sense, at the expense of individual freedom of choice. Personal freedom is not what it was. Stressed workers from builders to engineers, are all tip-toeing round their work places, spouting the latest vomit inducing soundbite from the dinner time news.
"That's a health and safety", I was aggressively told my a superior in my last job in Ireland. "I wasn't aware that health and safety is a noun" was my forward and frustrated reply.
In all honestly, the year I spend back home I felt violated by nonsensical parroting like the aforementioned. Here in Thailand, there may be corruption, chronic dis-organization and borderline anarchy, but at least you feel human - animated. I saw people on the verge of hemorrhaging because a yellow mop bucket, was being used on a red mop bucket's floor space - I kid you not.
For those of you who live in Britain, this will not come as a shock, in fact you are probably thinking
" Yeah, of course you shouldn't be using the incorrect mop, that's simply ridiculous!"
Pithel of this type, has anesthetized an entire generation, squeezing their ability to think straight. Once trivial issues, are now punishable by one the spot fines, or even a lengthy stretch in jail. Personally, I question a governments ultimate intentions when shouting in a car, or arguing with a privately employed traffic warden are criminal offenses.
What's next in this crazy state of affairs; enforced euthanasia to solve the problem of an aging population? Is an aging population a helath and safety issue? Who knows where it will all end?
The point is that anything can become law if twisted in the right way, and repeated often enough. Rapidly, liberty is being eroded, and people are too busy working to pay tax to notice. Like a faulty tap dripping, freedom is being stolen drop by drop; insidiously sucking the joy of life from people, replacing what were everyday actions, into incriminating offenses.
Next time your in the car and your afraid to turn over the radio because there's a policeman nearby, think of the Thai man in the coconut tree, and wonder where it all went wrong.