a parable

Today I came to the intersection of Boston ave and College ave on the Tufts campus. The “do not walk” sign was flashing, but the light for my side of the street was red, so I crossed. In fact, this is usually the case. The “do not walk” sign is usually active, but 9 times out of 10, the cars where I want to cross have a red light.

Sometimes, timid people wait for other people to make the first cross against the “don’t walk” sign, and some people run because they think the light will change soon.

But today, I saw something new. A girl was waiting to cross. I crossed in contravention of the “do not walk” sign. She did not follow, but continued to stare blankly at the pedestrian signal. I walked further. I turned back. Still waiting. I walked on. Finally, the “walk” sign flashed, and the girl crossed.

To me, this is a political parable. Why do we have rules? We don’t merely have them to just to have them. We have them (if they are just) for reasons. Political philosophy is valuable because it tells us the reasons for certain institutions and rules, so that we know when following such rules is just rule fetishism.


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