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£20 GETS A £1!!


Adam Smith 20

Our politicians and media would have us believe society is riven with thieves and hoodlums. Ros Dodd begs to differ

Returning to a supermarket car park yesterday, I spotted a piece of paper flutter from a fellow shopper's back pocket as he trundled along with his trolley.

Picking it up, I realised it was actually a £20 note, so I dashed over to the man and handed it back. The look on his face surprised me - as well as gratitude, it spoke of sheer amazement.

He thanked me profusely several times before walking off. Then he stopped, fumbled in his pocket and came back, proffering a pound coin to my young daughter. "Buy yourself some sweets," he said.

It was a kind gesture, but wholly unnecessary. Surely most people would have done as I did and returned the money to its rightful owner rather than stuffing it into their own pocket? Obviously not, if this man's reaction is anything to go by.

Well, I beg to differ. I believe nine out of ten people would have handed over that £20. It's instinctive to do the right thing, even if it momentarily crosses your mind that you could easily retrieve the note and make off with it undetected.

I don't blame my fellow shopper for being surprised at my honesty: I blame politicians, backed by the complicit media industry, for instilling in us a belief that we are surrounded by people who are out to rob, pillage, assault and defraud us at every turn.

This simply isn't true. Most citizens of our country are honest, considerate and public-spirited. Yet the fear of crime pervades dogma and policy across the political spectrum - dishonestly inveigling support from those without the nous to recognise that society is not overrun with muggers, child murderers and terrorists.

Ironically, the sorts of people least likely to become a victim of crime - the elderly - are frightened into all but barricading themselves into their homes through unnecessary anxiety they will be attacked if they set foot outside the door. On the other hand, those most likely to be assaulted on the street - 18 to 25-year-olds - don't give their personal safety more than a second's thought.

It is time politicians stopped patronising and scaring the electorate with persistent talk of rampant crime and focused instead on praising and supporting the inherent good nature of the vast majority of the population. For if they continue to imply that society is made up of hoodlums, then even the law abiding majority might become criminally brainwashed enough to see a stray £20 note, think "what the heck?" and pocket it.

Do you reckon we live in an "honest" society? Coment on the message board - who knows, you might find a fiver!


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