Looking for government laws to solve problems is literally the last thing we should do. These days, it seems like we’re happy to discard both a sizable chunk of our IQ points and our imagination the moment a societal challenge arises.
From school shootings to climate control to concerns about the growth of Artificial Intelligence, the widespread knee-jerk reaction has become “We need new legislation to solve it.” In practical terms, “legislation” means using the government’s threat of violence to force individuals and groups to comply with the wishes of others.
The first, last and only solutions we pursue should be those which avoid threats of violence. In our daily interactions, we use exclusively peaceful and cooperative approaches when dealing with others. There are certainly situations in which we don’t get our way, but that is part of living in peace with others–one person doesn’t get to forcibly push another into getting what they want. For those societal issues where we feel very strongly about how others should conduct themselves, we have a number of peaceful measures at our disposal, both social (such as protest and public admonition) and economic (such as boycotts and strikes). In more extreme circumstances, the fear of ostracization can also be a power motivator to get people to conduct themselves in a manner that others deem acceptable.
When the next social crisis dominates the headlines, we should look first to the vast power of our collective intellect and imagination to come up with solutions. Jumping immediately to a government solution is demonstrably worse than child-like, since even a child can recognize the important of trying peaceful options before resorting to violence.