October 21, 2014 | In: Opinion
Nurturing a Culture of Rats
I was a brilliant student at school. All those who know me in person can attest to that. But, when I was around 12 (or maybe 13, I can’t remember exactly), a small incident happened to me at school.
I was doing a test, and I knew I didn’t do that well (by the way, brilliant students worry much more about grades than F students), so when the teacher told us to put down our pens (e.g. that the test was over), I tried to make changes to the test, but, another student caught me and told the teacher: “Monsieur, il triche!” (French for “Sir, he’s cheating”). I remember this incident as if it happened yesterday, I remember how the rat jumped and yelled that I was cheating, I remember how the teacher was disappointed in me, I remember the shame, and I will never forget the disdain I and my friends felt for that person thereafter.
As children, we think of rats as bad people, those who tell on us for little, harmless things that we do for no reason other than they’re rats. Unfortunately, as we grow, the society molds our brains until we eventually think that ratting someone out is a good thing.
Let me give you an example… In some municipality somewhere in Canada, people are paid to tell on those who overstay their meter or park their cars in areas where they shouldn’t park. So there is this guy (and this is a true story), in his mid 40s, sitting on his balcony, drinking coffee, and watching the streets within his line of sight. Everytime he sees a simple parking issue, he calls his friend at the municipality, who then sends someone, fines the person, and gives the rat something like $25. Apparently, the person makes about $6,000/month for being a rat.
Of course, that scenario can happen in any place where the government pays money for people to tell on their co-citizens. I think these people are scum. They’re not doing this for the benefit of the society (how would someone who overstays his meter hurt my well-being?), they’re doing it for the money, which makes them less worthy than a bug for their society.
The problem is, governments have come to realize that this strategy is so successful that they are deploying it in every aspect of our lives. But that success comes at an expense, because governments, in that way, are nurturing a culture of rats. And rats are those people who were bad when we were kids, and our judgement towards others was always right when we were kids, because it was pure, untarnished by the greases of society, and unaltered by the ruthlessness of the world we live in.
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