Wandering Norfolk, I was struck by the number of warning and advisory signs, posted everywhere. Uncommon in the Netherlands, they are usually only meant to prevent liability in the US. Throughout Britain, though, they take on the tone of a cautious parent.
The British describe their national values as “kindness, politeness, and fair play”, sometimes to an extent that confounds Americans. (“Irony” is also important, but, as a source of endless misunderstandings, that’s another topic…) For more detail, I’m reading Kate Fox’s “Watching the English”, in which she dissects the rules that she believes to govern British behavior (below).
It led me to wonder whether the Values, in particular, could be extended to include the outward signs of helpfulness and giving notice that the signs seem to represent?
Another thought comes from reading Peter Clarke’s “Keynes”, in which he discusses the economist’s thesis on how to make decisions.
Social history is distilled into rules after the fact, but individual experiences are more limited and varied. In the absence of rules, decisions must be based on expectation, the probability that desired consequences will result from chosen actions. There is always a balance between obeying social rules and following individual judgment (the decision to adhere to the posted speed limit in specific conditions, for example).
So, I wonder whether a country with a long social history might tend towards having more rules than a younger country, and foster a cultural temperament that gives more weight to rules over experience in making decisions?
I probably should just enjoy the display without thinking about it too deeply
And take their advice.