Traditionally, animals have not been thought of in terms of emotion or morals, more in terms of instinctive self preservation and gratification. However, a review of Wild Justice by Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce explores the complex world of emotional and moral intelligence in animals
Apparently, animals exhibit behaviours such as: fairness; compassion; empathy; trust; a sense of justice; reciprocity. In other words, a recognisable moral code.
Reviewer Deborah Blum sums it up: “Their definition of morality is a strongly Darwinian one. They see moral actions as dictated by the behavioural code of social species, the communal operating instructions that bond a group safely together, the “social glue” of survival.”
I thought so: until I started reviewing the state of parliament and the behaviour of politicians.
What fairness do many politicians show when fiddling millions of tax payers’ pounds, legally (it seems) but unethically? Recent leaked documents are a catalogue of shame for many MPs.
How much compassion has been shown to Gurkhas and their families? Mercenaries or not these soldiers bravely fight and sometimes die for queen and country, ours, not theirs; surely they deserve a pension equal to that of other members of the armed forces. Recompensing themselves doesn’t seem to be problem for MPs.
With their inflated salaries, expense accounts and status how many MPs show genuine empathy towards the wider population of the UK? Career politicians often have no experience at all of ‘real life’ because they have gone from school to university to politics without taking a breather for a glimpse of reality.
Yesterday, a Populus poll for The Times showed a drop in support for the two main political parties. People no longer trust them to be anything more than self-serving.
MPs in the House of Commons, as a group, have overall control over the creation of laws by which the rest of us live. Yet, when it comes to creating the rules by which they are governed, they suit themselves. Where’s the justice in that?
As for reciprocity, what are they giving back? Not a lot at the moment it seems. At least not anything that is quantifiable. The economy is still in a mess; unemployment is rising; national debt is rising; bankruptcy is rising; businesses are failing; the pound is falling.
And politicians? They are getting pay rises and claiming huge expenses.
Apologies from leaders of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties and proposals to change the Second Home and Allowances systems are a step in the right direction. Worrying though, is that these changes have been brought about, not because of any moral code but because of public outrage.
So, Margaret Moran (flipping); David Willetts (Lightbulb replacement); Oliver Letwin (Tennis court pipes); Jacqui Smith (Sister’s bedroom); Ken Clarke (Council tax reduction); et al: The public is watching and waiting to see whether you will continue to focus on your own self preservation and gratification or if you will develop a moral code equal to that of mice, rats and wolves.