A plea for a more civilised society

Originally posted as A Different Hat, Mar 08 2010, 10:49 PM

So, David Cameron and Michael Gove want us to adopt the Swedish education model.

I once had an educational, indeed enlightening, experience in Sweden.

It involved a media channel that may never be used for commercial purposes – but which is very important. In fact, it can save lives.

I am talking about the little red and green ‘men’ that light up on and off at pedestrian crossings. Their aim is to tell you whether or not it is safe to cross the road. (Can I call them ‘men’? Probably not, especially in Sweden. But I’m not there now.)

Anyway, there I was in a provincial Swedish town, with my better half, clutching the hands of our two toddler children and waiting to cross a road – as it happened, a very straight road.

And we waited. And waited. Some people joined us. And then some more.

The red ‘man’ was alight. He stayed alight. And he stayed alight.

He just wasn’t moving. In fact, nothing was moving. 

I looked left. No traffic for miles.

I looked right. No traffic for miles.

I looked left again. And right again. And left again.

“Why don’t these other people cross the road”, I asked my better half.

“Because we are with children”, she said. “Otherwise they would”. 

Would the Conservatives, or any other of our revered career-politicians, succeed in educating our children to behave in such a thoughtful and civilised way when they grow up?

About Hugh Salmon

Business leader. Adman. Writer.
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