The Delicate Strength of the Social Contract

social_contractHave you ever wondered why someone doesn’t just steal all those Christmas lights? Or what’s really stopping people from slashing our tires or breaking into our houses? Or worse? Yes, we lock our doors and some people have alarms—and we live in a type of police state, so certainly the fear of getting caught curbs a lot of negative behavior—but I find myself imagining all sorts of mayhem that I don’t think anyone would get caught for. Luckily for my fellow humans, and especially my neighbors, I’m a standup guy and tend to be more on the side of “neighborhood watch” than “neighborhood terrorist.”

Still, I wonder…

What’s holding people back? I think it’s a couple things, mainly our social contract and despite what anyone says, I really think we, as humans, naturally want to be good to each other. You can see it in babies and kids. Not many of us come out with bats and chains, ready to wreak havoc on the playground. We’re born loving and open, ready to accept, share, and care for each other. Some of this is nurture, yes, but I’m pretty sure a lot of this is nature. Environment must play a big role, but that wouldn’t explain why the shadows of society don’t bleed more into the “sunnier” areas.

I guess, particularly this time of year, I like to be open to hope. There are a lot of terrible aspects of humanity but there is so much good, too. No matter what I see, hear, or read, on a daily basis, I’m pretty sure I see more positive signs that we aren’t lost yet. I’m going to take the fact that there are billions of Christmas lights worth billions of dollars still shining and twinkling up on peoples houses, all night long, as a sign that we’re not just a bunch of animals wearing jeans and driving cars.