The Social Contract

The definition of The Social Contract says that it is an agreement to give up some of ones personal freedoms to authority like a government in order to help maintain order in society. I would extend that in a modern definition  it means to agree to abide by the rules of society in general, in order to maintain an orderly and productive society.

One of the topics I ponder at length whilst hiking is the manner in which we commonly agree to this contract, but with exceptions that suit our personal needs, habits, wants, behaviors, and so on.

For example, while walking in a County Park last weekend, I came upon a lady who was well off of the trail with a very large doggie. The large doggie was taking a shit in the woods. He is not a human, so no social contract for him. The nice lady then proceeded back onto the trail without scooping the large doggie’s large doggie poop. This park has signs, rules that help keep it orderly and nice for all. Staying on the trail, and scooping poop, are clearly requested on the signs. The County also provide baggies and a drop box. Taxpayer funded. The nice lady passed me with her head down. She was doing the walk of shame. She knew, but she didn’t care enough to abide, only enough to be slightly ashamed.

Another example is a person I know who is a somewhat of a speedy driver. One of her favorite stories is about the time a young State Trooper gave her a ticket for speeding in a construction zone. She felt like it was unfair because she couldn’t see anyone working. She has also been known to complain to authority about other speedy drivers on our 20 MPH street. Speed limits are likely the most common rule that “does not apply to me”.

These are really trivial examples, but they work for our purposes here without getting into murder, robbery, theft, and other mayhem. I imagine dog lady considers herself a ” law abiding citizen”, and I know my friend does. How then are we comfortable with ourselves enough to simply ignore the tenets of The Social Contract that we deem burdensome or not applying to us, while judging harshly those who violate the rules we deem right or important?

Societies across the globe will sanction violators with fines, confinement, dismemberment, or even death. Some of us will even blow up your whole country and kill hundreds of thousands of you if only a few of you deviate from our interpretation of The Contract.

Do we need to redefine The Contract? Uphold it more loosely? Or maybe tighten up on the rules? Does everyone need to lighten up, or straighten up? Or do I just need to get over it?