I’ve been hunting for a graph I saw years ago. It showed the status of a number of societies plotted using 2D cartesian co-ordinates. One axis was about the level of internal or external control; the other about the level order or disorder. The theory behind it was that the lower the level of internal control (or conscience, if you will), the higher the level of external control (or cops, as the graph put it) needed to impose order. I haven’t found the graph, but I’ve redrawn it as a 3D – with the extra axis being compassion at one end and callousness at the other.
I take it we’d all like to live in the octant bordered by compassion, conscience, and cohesion. So what policies and practices should we be encouraging to make this happen? And how do the policies of the various parties standing for election next month contribute to this? (For our overseas visitors, New Zealand is facing an election choice next month, and we have a dismal field lining up to the starting gate. If countries get the governments they deserve – and on the whole I think this may be true, at least in a parliamentary democracy – we’ve been very lazy and very careless.)