Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Draconian measures

In a recent conversation this weekend with my mother, I was bitching discussing to her about the edriving course I was taking to reduce the points off my driver's license. You can read about the ticket on speeding here.

There were a few things that did not make sense to me. One was the letter I received in the mail, stating how I'd been "ordered" to go to traffic school. Uhh, no, this was my own choosing. Secondly, it said how I needed to complete the classroom course/online course/watch the dvd in 30 days or else I'd be liable to a suspension of license. The 30 day limit confused me further, because it never clarified from when. The options could be time of when the ticket was, time when the ticket was paid, or time from enrollment/date of registering online. It kind of stresses me out, so I feel like I need to get it done quickly since my 30 days is close.

But that's the thing. Why am I really fretting about this? I mean I paid my ticket and all. I'm not some criminal who has multiple traffic violations or tickets. My mother agreed with me, and then said, "yes, this seems a bit draconian, doesn't it?" Brilliant word which conveyed my feelings exactly.

This also got me thinking about the word Draconian. For those of you who remember your Greek history, Draco was the one chosen to draw up the first set of laws for Athens in 621 BC. This was the time Greece was building its democracy and the citizens wanted concrete, specific laws rather than just oral rules.

Well, apparently, 'ole Draco decided to codify strict, harsh, unreasonable laws. Draco felt that punishment by death was warranted for even minor offenses like stealing cabbage! Thus, the word "draconian" became adopted in the English language when describing law or government as extremely cruel or severe.
I guess we all could say we are not happy to have lived during that time. But what about in our mind?

Thinking about draconian (though not in the legal sense) reminds me of dieters and those with eating disorders. How many times have we punished ourselves for the smallest of infractions? We eat X piece of food or X amount of calories, and then punish ourselves through restricting/purging/overexercising to somehow "make up" for our misdeeds. Or we do not live up to or adhere to some expectation we feel we must and then wind up berating ourselves. The list could go on and on. Doesn't all this seem excessively cruel? So why do we do it? Why do we feel we must be draconian with ourselves? In the end, what does it really accomplish?


Like the citizens of Athens, they realized they could not live under Draco's Law and eventually appointed Solon to redefine the laws. How come we don't do the same thing and have an uprising of our own draconian laws we place among ourselves? Something to think about. Perhaps, it's all a part of recovery?

Note--*Originally, I thought state traffic school would be easy, like just a four hour session in the classroom or online. Wrong! In the online version, there are 6 units with 3-4 sections, each having 6-8 parts. To me, it seems excessive. I wonder about those people who may fail but really are capable drivers.

5 comments:

700stories said...

I wrote another "response blog" ;)
http://700stories.wordpress.com/2009/04/21/draconian-thinking/

I see you've posted via twitter so I tend to use that as a starting point. I read lots of other blogs I could bounce off of too haha, just haven't gotten there yet.

(and that traffic class sounds horrid. I am stressing that my license might be expired... I'm not sure how long the grace period is from the expiration date, and I moved to a different state and the DMV isn't open on the weekends... aahhhgakdfjadsl)

Kim said...

LOVE this idea. My life is way too draconian much of the time -- too much punishment for infractions that aren't even infractions!

Gaining Back My Life said...

Ha - reminds me of when I moved to CA and they made me take the actual DRIVING test again - at age 27! I think I was more nervous than when I was 16!

Lola Snow said...

Oh this is so true! I am all for the punishment with my ED. Unless it hurts then I am not trying hard enough apparently. Elegance is in refusal, and pain equates with success. Drac-arexia?

Lola x

Tiptoe said...

700stories, glad you were able to relate. I posted a comment there.
Yes, expired license isn't fun to deal with.

Kim, punishment really only works when it is equated to the crime. We so overjudge our crimes!

GBML, that would leave me nervous too!

Lola, like the new term drac-arexia, though some may misjudge it as being related to "dracula."