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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Day 513: The Nature of our Customs

Whenever a package is sent to South Africa from outside the country it must be cleared by Customs. This is apparently supposed to tell you how Customs works and what-not - it is a schedule to the laws basically.

Unfortunately it cannot be said that the manifestation and implementation of these laws is an accurate reflection of the Schedule. If you were to ask around, let's say you ask a postal worker, I pretty much guarantee that they will shrug their shoulders in bafflement as to the workings and reasonings of RSA Customs.

I have heard of someone paying 100% of the value of their package to Customs. I have seen myself how a package with certain contents will be charged one amount by Customs one day, and another day the amount will be ten times higher for the same contents. Sometimes you don't pay any Customs tax at all.

Somewhere, someone is making a hell of a lot of money.

This reminds me of a discussion in one of my text books for Public Administration - Ethics. The author postulates that in a country where a certain thing, or way of doing things (for example: bribery), is accepted by the majority of people and where details pertaining to this thing or way of doing things is made public knowledge (and obviously is still accepted by the people) then it can be seen as a part as the custom or culture of that country and is therefore not immoral or ethically incorrect.

That sounds pretty frikkin weird to me, it doesn't really make sense. It is the same as saying "if everyone accepts rape as being a part of life that is "OK" then rape is OK". This is essentially the act of seeing something for what you want it to be instead of for what it actually is. If you were to ask yourself if things like bribery and rape are things that are truly best for everyone involved, directly and indirectly, and answer with anything but "no", then I would doubt your sanity and definition of the word (and concept) of "best". So, to make sure that we are on the same page, when I say "best for everyone" I mean that it gives everyone the best opportunity to fulfill their potential and not be abused or impeded by anyone or anything else.

How about I use a parent-child relationship as an example: a parent wants what is best for their child, but sometimes the parent projects their own desires and warps their idea of "what is best" to suit themselves, instead of recognising that they are actually imposing their own will onto their child. We all have a tendency of living this way in all aspects of our lives, we have lost the ability to be practical and objective, to recognise what is truly best in the absence of our own interests. When you are defining what is best for all it is absolutely imperative that you let go of your own ideas and look at the entirety of the situation objectively.

Now you may ask yourself again if things like bribery and rape are things that are truly best for everyone involved, directly and indirectly?

You could ask yourself the following question in relation to each and every one of your relationships in your life: Do I truly want what is best for this person, or do I want for them what I think is best? It is a hard question to ask, as we naturally believe with a very powerful conviction that what we want for someone is inherently what is best for them simply because we care for this person.

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