Secret rules, peaceful enforcers
In my youth I had two experiences where a non-state rule enforcer had to deal with me violating a rule and handled in a way I didn't appreciate until years later. I'll recite both experiences:
- I was at a catholic "virtue camp" of some perverse kind. They had speakers in a field and played loud music most of the time that bothered me. I decided I'd had enough of it and I would walk as far away as I had to get to stop hearing the music. I walked what was probably half a mile and reached some tranquil suburbs. There I was approached by a young woman associated with the program, I think, or maybe she just knew about it. She heard my story, suggested that the music might be done now, and wanted to walk me back to the camp. I agreed and walked with her. (The music was not done, but I think I eventually decided to tolerate it.)
- I was at a movie theater with my family. The thing I hated about these places was the ads - so many, and so loud. This time my family had talked me into coming by promising I could wait in the hallway during the ads. A hall guard saw me standing alone, asked me why and I explained it. He suggested that the ads might be over by now - even though he had no idea how long I'd been standing there and I was clearly the only one in a position to judge whether it was time to check again. Out of social pressure, I went back in.
Shortly after both of these experiences, I realized what had happened: I was breaking a rule and the enforcer didn't want to tell me. And I was insulted.
But years later, I saw their actions differently. They didn't want to tell me children weren't allowed to be alone because then they would be coercing me. They wanted my compliance to be voluntary. They wanted to do it morally. I don't know if that's how they saw it, but it's how I do now. It wasn't an insult. It was treating me like a human being, a respect rarely given to children.
subscribe via RSS