I’ve discovered that as I’ve gotten older there’s a moral internal conflict between doing what’s right and just letting things go.
It used to be if I saw someone breaking the law I’d report it to whoever. I know I’ve probably broken some laws and now reporting someone else would be hypocritical.
I’m not talking serious law breaking that hurt people directly. I mean things like going over the speed limit, giving a tip in cash so the server can avoid paying taxes on it, and so on. I mean, legally they are all controlled by laws, but then you come to a point in life where you start to decide what laws to follow and what laws to bend or ignore.
I just had a situation where I witnessed a semi truck driving collide with a building while backing up causing damage to the structure. He then left, drove around the block and parked out front to make his delivery.
At first, I was tempted to call the cops, after all he caused property damage and legally left the scene of an accident. But since no one was hurt I thought maybe I’d just call the non-emergency line.
Then it occurred to me that since no one was hurt, and the driver might report it, and I know the building owner – who is a real prick, that it might be better just to let it go and have it resolve itself. Maybe I could just call the trucking company dispatch and let them know what I had witnessed.
I texted a friend, basically describing what had happened, and asking if they thought I should, at least, call the trucking company and report it. They said, “do it” and I did. I called the dispatch for the trucking company and reported to them what I had seen. They knew who the driver was, before I even gave them the trailer ID number, and thanked me for calling. It’s up to them now to investigate.
The reason for the moral dilemma, not so much about doing the “right thing” but rather for the fact that a) no one was directly hurt, and b) the building owner is a real prick and deserves to pay to repair damages to their building.
Now, the other thing is, years ago I witnessed one car hit another. I knew the driver of the offending vehicle, I think he reported it, but I didn’t.
In the case of the semi I was concerned because he clearly had issues driving the long truck on town streets (having just blocked off the main street minutes before while trying to get out of another alley) and a bad semi driver can kill a lot more people than a Toyota driver. The semi driver really should have known better than to try to reverse a long semi down a narrow back alleyway. I was a couple cars away from the semi and even I could tell he wasn’t going to clear the building. Too often semi truck drivers blame car drivers for all the “bad driving” on the roadways, but that’s because there are far more car drivers than semi drivers on the road so of course there will be more incidents involving cars.
Back to the ethics of age and laws. Where does one draw the line? In this case, I followed the “outside edge” of the rule of law. It should have been reported to the police but instead I reported it to the driver’s employer (whose name was on the side of the semi trailer). Perhaps a return to the rigid rule of law is what our society needs again.
Take walking your dog on the beach in this small town. There is a very visible bylaw sign on the post that clearly states: NO DOGS ON BEACH MAY 1 – OCT 1. It is a rule “likely” meant to prevent two things – doggy poopies on the sand (since not everyone scoops after their dog poops) and to prevent dogs from frightening small children. Fair enough.
Legally, however, it is a LAW, albeit a by-law, and violators should be reported (I’ve seen three so far in two days). But seriously, do you want to be the A-hole who calls the cops on some grandma walking her Yorkie? Would you (as a lone adult without any family near) walk up to grandma and remind her of the posted bylaw?
Or, is it a stupid law that can be “ignored” until there is a problem, because no one is getting hurt by breaking it?
In the olden days, there’d be no bylaw so we’d just ignore grandma.
In the nineties, we might ask her if she had seen the sign but then again probably not.
Today, if you approached grandma and reminded her of the sign… someone completely not involved would feel inclined to record it with their phone and post it to YouTube with the title PRICK HARASSES GRANDMA OVER PUPPY ON BEACH and basically crucify you in social media for just trying to follow the law.
And in the end, it’s a stupid bylaw anyways (as another friend of mine stated). If the owner cleans up after their pet (a bylaw), and keeps it restrained by a leash (bylaw) then why keep dogs off the beach – especially when you allow VEHICLES to enter the beach and cross the sand to get to the harbour?
So, “no dogs on the beach in summer”, stupid by-law or necessary evil?
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