While I understand the desire to maximize our experience of freedom to the greatest extent possible, we run into a number of problems in a society this heavily populated and technologically-sophisticated. I’ve said it a bunch and will say it again — a substantial difference in most-modern life compared against how people lived a mere century or two ago is that nowadays there are a WHOLE LOT more of us crammed in urban areas and we do not know (are incapable of knowing) most others who surround us in these shared living spaces. We’ve long-since left the times when people lived in relatively small communities where they were at least roughly acquainted with everybody therein (even if only through family reputation), and it doesn’t look like we’ll be returning to such ways of life anytime soon. In short, a major aspect of most-modern-day life is living among/around and interacting with countless strangers.
The reason this matters and is a massive game-changer is obviously compounded by various cultural inputs, meaning we’re not even living among people who necessarily identify with the culture(s) we do. And that seriously complicates shit, because with culture comes values. In the U.S., we have numerous subcultures that vary widely in the ways people communicate, what religion they’re likely to embrace or at least be exposed to, differences in attitudes on things like corporal punishment and what constitutes reasonable self-defense/reactions to disrespect, etc. We have people in this country from all around the globe, some of whom have lived here for generations, others who haven’t been here long at all. And we’re saturated with an untold number of ideologies varying according to which faction(s) one wishes to associate with.
A sea of diverse strangers, more or less depending on one’s particular locale.
And yet some still seem to be laboring under the fantasy that the vast majority of us see things in some similar sort of fashion, at least so much that we’d like to think most of these other strangers out here share similar values and will act accordingly. That appears to be a false assumption.
Kinda like the difference between, on one hand, the man who learns the system so as to play within it in a bid to succeed, and, on the other hand, the man who learns the system so as to game it, even if that winds up doing harm to others in the process. See, the truth is that there are a number of people out here who simply don’t care about you or what you’re trying to do or what you value most. This shouldn’t be a secret, considering we all know of some of these types who are hell-bent on doing whatever they want regardless of the social cost to others. We hear about it on the news and from our friends and family members who’ve been impacted and/or we experience this issue directly ourselves.
Once again, we’re not all on the same team. And in keeping that in mind, how much trust should we reasonably extend to others? I don’t believe there is a magic, universally-applicable answer here. Rather, we’re prompted to treat others with scrutiny until we have good reason to do otherwise. That is, until trust is established.
But how does one go about establishing trust when most people we’re surrounded by will remain strangers to us?
Well, we obviously can’t establish trust with most folks. Just not possible. And we’re never really certain which stranger out of the bunch will pose a problem for us. Hence why we have laws in place in an attempt to curb unwanted behaviors through the threat of possible legal action. And yes, due to the complexity of the society we live within and residents of each state having some say on local conditions and laws, we’ve constructed a complicated legal nightmare to traverse in this country.
But some of these laws are quite useful. For example, statutory limits placed on youths’ ability to consent to sex with grown adults. Considering parents can’t be around at all times throughout their children’s upbringing (we not living in old agrarian times anymore), they are unable to play the role of overseer where as historically parents arguably had a great deal more control in that arena. So we created laws to try to deter adults from sexually messing with youths, and as to be expected, some of those laws have been misused and abused over time. I sincerely wish we could get around that, and perhaps people of tomorrow will figure out better ways of doing so. But as it stands today, there’s a need for protection over the most vulnerable persons in our society from those who could potentially present the most harm by attempting to use youths for their own sexual desires. If parents could take such people out back and string them up from a tree, undoubtedly more than a few would try that. But we’re expected to remain civilized and to let the governing bodies sort out and punish such offenses.
We can’t simply trust random people to do right by us, let alone to do right by young people who tend to be too trusting for their own good. We know this. This is not a secret. And yet some play with the idea and come up with thinking that such laws should be removed because they’re illogical and arbitrarily determined. Many laws involve rather arbitrarily decided lines drawn in the sand, from the age to begin collecting social security payments to the legal drinking age out at bars to when you’re legally allowed to apply for a driver’s license. If we were to make an argument about the arbitrariness of age requirements in legal codes, we’d have to swipe countless laws from the books and reinvent whole new ways of determining appropriate points in development for whatever is in question. And what I’ve heard advocated was that individuals being assessed on a case-by-case basis would be fairer. Perhaps that’s true that it might be fairer for each individual, but in a society this heavily populated that just isn’t feasible.
It’s obviously not my love for Big Government or a desire to feel like I’m little more than a number that propels my thinking here, seeing as how I’ve raged against both concerns plenty enough on here. But I also am forced to be realistic with where we stand today. Times have radically changed in a few short decades and we’re embarking in a new direction, whether we individually like it or not. There will be restrictions and lines drawn in the sand all over the place. The best we can likely do is try to sway where the lines are drawn, but to eliminate them entirely? Good luck with that.
And that’s why I’m not too concerned with Justicar’s arguments, other than worrying about his expressed views pandering to those who do wish to take advantage of youths, as if we need anymore of those types cropping up and acting out. All societies draw lines in the sand, and that’s essentially what a legal system is. Our moral concerns may vary over time and laws are updated in response to that, and sometimes those laws go too far and wind up criminalizing some of the people they were intended to initially protect. That’s not good, and we should call those cases out. But I also don’t think it’s wise to throw the baby out with the bathwater by assuming that since a law can be misapplied that it therefore must have no value at all. That does not appear to be the case when we look at age of consent laws overall.
But I’m tired of that fool and have devoted enough attention to his mind games for one day.