Thursday, 25 September 2014

The Ground of Civilisation

Hell Hole of the South Pacific Waits in the Wings

Human civilisation is skin deep.  It can only be sustained in a society by a majority of families who live, believe, and practise the values of a civilised society in their homes and communities. This reality was caught most powerfully by William Golding's Lord of the Flies.

The law, its enforcement agencies, the rules and institutions of state, the courts, the schools, and the institutions of trade and commerce--all these can only continue to exist in any society by warrant of a majority of civilised families. After all, the law and justice are intangibles, grounded in ideas and concepts believed and respected in the heart of a community.  

We have had yet another illustration of these truths.
  In Northcote, a teenage miscreant preyed upon a single older woman outside a supermarket, attempting to snatch her bag.  Such crimes had been systemic in the area over recent days.  A mother of six, who was accompanied by two of her younger children, went to the aid of the attacked woman.  Lucy Knight (pictured below) was, in turn, struck by the criminal, fell to the pavement, and fractured her skull.  The criminal ran off to a waiting car and was driven away.

Police released CCTV images of the bag-snatching suspect near Northcote's Countdown Supermarket. Inset, Lucy Knight.
Police released CCTV images of the bag-snatching suspect near Northcote's Countdown Supermarket. Inset, Lucy Knight.

Mrs Knight has undergone emergency surgery and is now in a stable condition.
Michael Dudley, 21, works at a takeaway shop nearby and was there when the drama unfolded.  "I was coming out of Countdown and I heard a struggle behind me," he told the Herald last night.  "I turned around to see a swinging arm. Then the lady fell, she went down really fast and hit her head on the concrete. I saw the young kid take off down the carpark and I started to chase him."  The youth got into a car that Mr Dudley said was waiting for him. He saw a woman in the driver's seat. [NZ Herald]
Now this may be a small, insignificant incident in the "grand scheme of things".  But it is not.  Society and civilisation are made up of, and sustained by, thousands upon thousands of such deeds of goodness and courage.   Reactions to evil like Mrs Knight's are instinctive and spontaneous.  As a mother of six children she no doubt has devoted her life to the care of others who by nature are vulnerable.  Others.  We are reminded of how William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, sent out a telegram asking for donations to support the work of the Army.  The telegram has only one word: "Others". Upon such values, civilisation is built and sustained.

No doubt Mrs Knight reacted instinctively and courageously because these values are engraved upon her heart and mind.  She responded without thinking.  She is a truly civilised person.  She represents the essence of the only way a society can maintain justice, truth, respect, honesty, gentleness, generosity, and thoughtfulness.  Without such values of the heart being inculcated in families, society disintegrates into a hell-hole. 

No comments: