Social Activity

For a discussion of Music, go here, or for Movies, go here.


A helping-hand

When driving in the rain, in the olden days, if a person saw someone walking, they would offer them a lift, at least to the end of the road, and the other person would accept gratefully. Many times, the simplest way to reach a place was by "hitchhiking" - walking in the direction of the destination, with the thumb raised to indicate the need for a "lift".
But now (a) the driver wouldn't stop for fear of being attacked and having their car stolen, or worse; and (b) the person walking would assume - often correctly - that the driver had some evil intent in offering the ride.
Case in point: Just pick up any newspaper and skim for an example that makes either case arguable.
There are also many legal cases in recent years, where a person who tried to render help has been accused, either rightly or wrongly, of having caused the problem. This has resulted in "good Samaritan laws" in some countries, where a person rendering help is given immunity from prosecution related to the incident.

May Day

Picture of children dancing around the Maypole on May Day

On 1st May each year, May Day has for many years been, and is still celebrated in towns, schools and churches. It celebrates the end of winter in the northern hemisphere. A wooden pole about 3m tall is erected in an open area, and cloth ribbons of various colours dangled to the ground from the top of it. Children (and sometimes adults) each take hold of a ribbon and skip around the pole, singing the Maypole song. Alternate children go in opposite directions, weaving in and out. The ribbons form a pattern around the pole.
There is also a May Day parade in many towns, with all the children in their brightest clothes parading down the street. The effect on community spirit is very positive and real.

Foo was here

Picture of "Foo Woz Here"

There was a very popular graffiti figure that stayed around for many years. It showed a half-face, usually looking over a fence, and was drawn on trains, fences - anywhere where there was a blank space, really! It was usually done in chalk, and disappeared in time, and was quite harmless.
In contrast, today there are graffiti "tags" and obscene messages done in paint or permanently scratched on windows. Sadly, some tags are quite artistic and in the right place would be very attractive and interesting.


As a kid, it was a source of embarrassment to be seen to be friendly to someone of the opposite gender. Claims that you had been seen holding hands, or worse, kissing, were vehemently denied. These days it's not only condoned by kids and adults alike, but encouraged, no matter what age the kids.
Two people living together before marriage was once absolutely scandalous and warranted rejection from all social activities. But now, the "try before you buy" attitude is endemic and fast becoming the norm.
Same-sex marriages also, once considered a thing of the Devil, are now accepted in may parts of the world.

Child control

Picture of a child being taught to play the piano
It was once considered normal and acceptable for a parent to give a child a smack when misbehaving; it told the child that their behaviour was not acceptable.
Now, there is a risk that the parent would be reported and charged with assault.
I feel that parents should have the right and may need to do this on occasion. The flip side is that they should give positive re-inforcement for good behaviour.
Of course, any punishment that causes ongoing pain or injury or humiliation is not acceptable. Case in point: There have been cases where a child caught smoking has been forced by the parent to smoke the whole pack of cigarettes. I would question their primary interest in the child's welfare.
Pleasant interaction between parents and children is crucial for a stable family relationship.


The right to defend

Picture of a burglar in action

If a burglar broke into your home in the dead of night, a person had a right to do whatever it took to defend their family and their property. If the intruder was hurt as a result, that was regarded as a result of their actions. If caught they would face the court and be punished appropriately.
Now, if the criminal so much as cuts themself on the broken window glass, they can sue the owner for the injuries received.
Case in point: A burglar fell through a skylight, severely injuring himself while attempting to steal property from a building. He sued the owner of the skylight for $8 million but settled for "only" $260,000 plus $1200 per month for life.

But more recently, a man was on trial in Melbourne for the murder of a would-be robber.
Two days before his body was found, the robber visited a factory armed with a sawn-off shotgun. The jury was told he confronted a factory worker, and demanded to know where the drugs and the money were. The worker said he thought it was a practical joke, but he took him to an upstairs office and showed him some tubes containing drugs. The robber hit him with the butt of his gun and stomped on him, shouting that he knew there was more. He then put down the gun and picked up a heavy statue, and walked towards the worker, intending to hit him with it. But the worker jumped up, knocking the robber off balance and causing the statue to fall on him. He then grabbed the gun and repeatedly struck the robber in the head, shoulders and neck with it. He then wrapped the robber in thick black plastic and put him inside a two-metre long metal pipe used for air conditioning ducts. He was later found dead inside the pipe.
The defence lawyer told the jury the worker had the right to defend himself as a gun was pointed at him. He said the defendant did not have "any murderous intent".
Obviously, there are limits to which one may reasonably go to defend; Actions beyond this limit may be considered a criminal act.


Years ago, in a management course, I was taught that "Authority and responsibility must be co-terminous, co-equal and defined". This rule appears to be in question now.

If a child was riding their bike on the footpath and an adult said "you should be riding on the road; you may run into somebody", they would blush sheepishly, maybe say "sorry", and move to the edge of the road.
Now, very often (but not always, thankfully) the adult would receive a mouthful of abuse and the child would continue on their merry way. The same lack of respect is shown towards teachers, police and others. The problem continues to be compounded by new laws that remove virtually all rights of control over the actions of others.
Case in point: While shopping recently there were four or five boys with bikes at the shopping centre. They stopped at a shop and just dropped their bikes on the footpath outside. As I approached I said "Someone could trip over your bikes, how about leaving them over against the wall over there?" The response I got from all of them is not printable, but in summary, they were not going to do what some old guy wanted them to do.


If a person was walking though a park and tripped over a fallen branch, they'd say something like, "Ouch! I'd better watch where I'm going or I'll hurt myself."
Now, they'd go home, ring up their solicitor and arrange to sue the local council for a million dollars for the trauma, loss of mobility and loss of income.
Case in point: A swimmer successfully sued the local council for negligence after he jumped into the waves at Bondi beach and became a quadriplegic after striking a sandbank.
It seems much of the responsibility for our own welfare has been passed on to the "authorities". I feel we need to take back some of this responsibility, and accept that ultimately, we must take care of ourselves and each other.
And, more recently... In a decision in Queensland this week, a Supreme Court Justice ruled that a tourist would receive 85 per cent of any damages awarded against the Government. He suffered a C6 vertebral bone fracture with spinal cord damage when he ran down a sand dune, tripped and fell into the water at Lake Wabby.

There are instances every day of people suing for damages etc for events that were either caused by their actions or could not have been anticipated by the sued person.

Your View

Do you think we've improved our social life over the years, or have we gone backwards? Give your view here.

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