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Monday, April 2, 2018

#STAYINYOURLANE A TEST OF PEOPLE POWER

My cheeky friend James while fuming in traffic lurched upon an interesting way to shame rogue road users. He would take photographs off his phone of those drivers who think they are more in a hurry than the rest of us and choose to create extra lanes, and post onto Twitter.

The hash tag StayInYourLane has caught on and more and more people are clicking away and exposing these nefarious types all day, but mostly in the mornings and evenings.

The idea, rather a genius one, is that the offending drivers, can be shamed into good behaviour – notice that #StayInYOurLane doesn’t waste time with taxi drivers, will be chastised by their bosses – the feed has been dominated by police, army and ministerial vehicles and the impossible can happen, we will have orderly traffic in this city – James is already reporting nothing short of miraculous improvements on the Namugongo-Kyaliwajjala road.

It maybe too soon to pass pull out the champagne but the campaign and its initial results suggest that there is hope for this country.

The argument can be made that the law is made for the middle class. For the lowly classes, survival trumps the rules as a moderator of behaviour. For the upper classes, they get away with so much crime by virtue of their position, impunity sets in and to hell with the law.

The middle class is scared of being shamed. Being made to look bad in society. They are conscious about their appearance, what people will say about them, which is kind of weak because, when no one is watching the middle class –church going or otherwise, get up to some really nasty stuff – see all the billions pilfered out of the government coffers annually. You shine a light on them and they straighten out.

So #StayInYourLane is helping show that our middle class is not beyond redemption, if they can be shamed into good behaviour.

Imagine the uses it can be applied to, in the fight against corruption for instance.

What if we started a hash tag #HowDidYouGetIt or #ShowMeTheWay or #DoesYourMumKnowAboutThis every time we saw someone flaunting inexplicable wealth that we know for sure they could not have amassed given their public servant salary?

It would be priceless to be that fly on the wall when the corrupt official sees his house splashed all over social media or he is captured ordering Black Labels by the bottle on a Tuesday night or flying out first class on Emirates – wife, children and maids in tow to blast away in the Pacific. #DoesYourMumKnowAboutThis.

In the immortal words of the wandering Jew, “Let he who is without sin hurl the first stone”.
We are not blameless. But if we can nip such antisocial behaviour in the bud we can have fewer people falling out of the middle class, hopefully fewer still climbing into the ”impunity” class and we can live happily ever after. Or at least with less aggro on our roads.

There is a reason why society sets out laws, a code of conduct or rules of engagement. This is to ensure there are pre-set, agreed upon and objectively arrived ways of doing things that allow us to live together, work effectively and efficiently.

Often they are time tested under numerous circumstances and have been shown to work. There are a small minority who are more intelligent than the average and the people who cannot #StayInYourLane are definitely not among them...

As #StayInYourLane is showing good behaviour is not impossible.

A few years ago I discovered the “four way crossing”. It was marvel to behold.
While being driven around South Africa more than a decade ago I kept noticing that my host would stop unbidden when they came to a four-way crossing in the road, even when it seemed there was just enough space to squeeze through.

I asked what that was about. The explanation was that when one stops at four way crossing, you have to let everyone else who was there before you pass before you attempt to do so yourself. So if you get to the crossing and there are three, four or whatever number of cars on any of three intersections, you cannot cross before each has done so. And this happens in the order in which they happened on the crossing.

If you are a Ugandan driver you would have to see it to believe it.


Happy Easter to you all.

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