January 23, 2013

Reasonable Society

It’s been an interesting time, the last few weeks with the world of cycling on the verge of potential implosion as one 7 time winner of the TDF plays out his game of chess to gain public favour and build his newest empire. Hard on the mind as I can feel my enthusiasm drop and I can see that the world is tired of one of the most beautiful, difficult sports on the planet. As Privateer grows and we take on new projects that centre around the simplicity of riding a bike, or running wildly and freely, I find myself doubting the seemingly “not normal” efforts out there and have to remind myself that a cleaner, wiser, more ethical group of professionals now partake in these sports.

Whilst I am not convinced that all sports are cleaning up their act, I believe that some are trying harder than others. When the culture changes at a school level, then we will see the change all the way to the top. When the fathers of high school rugby players step in and demand to see what coaches are giving their “boytjies” that they are 18 years old and 100kg of muscle, we will see a better game being played all the way to Super 15, but likely it’ll be the Super 22 by that stage.

I am reading about society at the moment, as well as moderated societies, flow, tempo and the worth / value of money. Big steaks to chew on but I am fascinated by mankind and its ability to totally dominate at present. The beautiful roads I love to ride are an absolute domination on the natural landscape. I marvel at it, but at the same time aware that it’s not natural. Like skycrapers with a zero carbon footprint, they tweak our imagination that something so unnatural can have no effect on the environment.

I found this passage today, and it’s worth the share:

Reasonable citizens want to live in a society in which they can cooperate with their fellow citizens on terms that are acceptable to all. They are willing to propose and abide by mutually acceptable rules, given the assurance that others will also do so; and they will honour these rules even when this means some sacrifice to their own interests. Reasonable citizens want, in short, to belong to a society where political power is legitimately used.

Each reasonable citizen has his own view about God and life, right and wrong, good and bad. Each has, that is, what Rawls calls his own comprehensive doctrine. Yet because reasonable citizens are reasonable, they are unwilling to impose their own comprehensive doctrines on others who are also willing to search for mutually agreeable rules. Though each may believe that he knows the truth, none is willing to force other reasonable citizens to live by that truth, even should he belong to a majority that has the power to enforce it.

One ground for reasonable citizens to be so tolerant, Rawls says, is that they accept a particular explanation for the diversity of world-views in their society. Reasonable citizens accept the burdens of judgement. The deepest questions of religion, philosophy, and morality are very difficult even for conscientious people to think through, and people will answer these questions in different ways because of their own particular life experiences (their upbringing, class, occupation, and so on). Reasonable citizens understand that these deep issues are ones on which people of good will can disagree, and so will be unwilling to impose their own worldviews on those who have reached different conclusions.

Read more here

It goes into justice, fairness and basic liberties. It’s a good read and I had to bring it back to a few of the articles I read in the last week that inspired me to believe in the performances set out by elite-level athletes in every sport. Sport is a beautiful thing. It’s about honour, about pride and about fairness. It’s been marketed as “win-at-all-costs” and lately, that it’s impossible to win fairly, with honour. It hurts me to think about it that way. Sport gives me so much and I don’t want to become that guy who questions every performance, who scrutinises every win and immediately shoots towards “he/she is to the eyeballs” without considering the work the athlete has put in.

As we close our eyes and imagine the best sporting performances we have ever seen, we are inspired that an athlete overcame on a level playing field with honour, pride and that it was justice for hard work, consistency and just a little panache thrown in for measure.

This happens in a reasonable society.

But is our society reasonable?

Are children being brought up with reasonable messages? Are the marketing departments of the world giving them a fair chance to play with honour?

I am not so sure any longer that this is the world that the leaders of our fathers fathers wanted to create. That their dream was to have a world where shows like Little Miss Perfect are watched by millions, sitting squarely in front of their flat-screens, eating over-processed, plastic, genetically-modified foods that give them no hope of being perfect, only a high chance of diabetes and leaky guts syndrome.

Where is our reasonable society? I’ll give you some clues:

– It starts in your house.
– It starts with the way you treat competitors at races and out training.
– It starts with how you pick what you eat.
– It starts with a basic respect for your body and your mind.
– It starts with you.

Reasonable society is a concept that we can create. That transgresses this belief that a good society is impossible, that victory without assistance is a pipe-dream. It’s a long way off, but so is the first step towards the Ironman finish line when you first commit to getting there.

Perhaps I am a total dreamer for putting these words down here. But possibly, I can convince a few of you to join me on this path…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.