Acquired Manners Is Only Half of the Answer

Thursday, June 22, 2006


An editorial in yesterday’s Jordan Times commented about the new traffic barricade system that has been installed in some of Sweifieh’s more perilous intersections. The barricades have been put in place to force drivers to do what they should be doing in the first place—abide by traffic laws and a general sense of road safety and courtesy.

The article goes on to herald Thai behavior, where smoking indoors in public areas is not permitted and enforced by local law enforcement. Traffic laws are also strictly obeyed, with no weaving in and out of lanes and no road rage or ill-mannered behavior.

The article concludes that in order to create such a blissful, harmonious society, establishing good community habits such as educating children on issues as soon as they are old enough to grasp the concepts is necessary.

I’ve never been to Thailand, so I guess I have to give the author the benefit of the doubt. My father has been to Thailand, however, and he was less than impressed with the driving standards. But aside from the issue of whether Thai people are orderly drivers or not, I must take issue with the author’s naive solution. While I agree that good manners, respect, and community habits should be taught, I don’t think that today’s generation will ever be in a position to teach them. After all, one cannot teach what one has not learned. Our self-serving, disorderly society can only be taught by one thing: strict enforcement of the law.

Now I’m not proposing that we authorize the use of force for minor infractions. If someone smokes indoors in a public location, don’t argue with the guy; fine him until it hurts. And here’s a novel idea: rather than having the police in the streets “directing” traffic (and in essence, simply managing—and most of the time, ignoring—idiot drivers who could care less about traffic laws), the police should be allowed to enforce traffic laws by ticketing offenders.

Smoking and bad driving aren’t the only areas of improvement, but they are some of the most visible. Rather than citing a country like Thailand, I present to you ordered nations like England, the Czech Republic, and for the most part, the United States, where citizens have a healthy fear of breaking the law because the police have the cojones to do something about it.


Blogger Ohoud said...

Well the problem in Jordan and in Arab countries is that there will always be a "wasta" which is a relation to a certain person which will get you out of it.

So even when you get a fine you can simple get some "wasta", which will insure you wont pay a penny:)

6/23/2006 1:19 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Ohoud, I completely agree with you. Wasta is one of those issues that keeps the Arab world from advancing past a certain stage.

Imagine the imaginable, however. What if there were failsafes, fines or penalties for applying wasta to a point where it stretches the law? Many other countries don't have problems with wasta, so there is a solution out there.

6/23/2006 2:52 PM  
Blogger Moey said...

it made me suffer.. instead of reachin in 30mins from the airport, it took me 1.45mins! insane

6/25/2006 2:14 AM  

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