Tuesday, 6 July 2010

How the Law Kills - An Anecdote from A Child Day Care Experiment

The following video is interesting, but the most fascinating bit for me starts at 6:50.

Shirky talks about a social experiment performed at a child care centre and how the imposition of a fine on parents for the late retrieval of their children had exactly the opposite effect to the one intended by the creation of the said fine.

The payment of the fine, rather than encouraging early arrival, absolved the miscreant parents of any guilt of arriving late.

The problem was that introducing a contractual/legal element to the parent-teacher relationship killed the organic, relational generosity/obligation dynamic that existed between them. No doubt, even those who continued to pick their kids up on time, felt a level of depersonalisation and distance when they received the rather heavy letter informing them of the new "fine" regime.

Law is impotent in every way. If it doesn't birth the opposite behaviour in us, it will at best birth a very clinical and impersonal relationship, one based on what each party owes rather than on love and mutual appreciation.

Either way you and I are stuffed apart from Jesus.

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