SouthWest and the Social Contract

I know that I begin an awful lot of my writings with the phrase, “I still can’t believe that I live in such a beautiful place,” but every time I go for a ride I am amazed by the fantastic landscape that makes up the southwest, specifically, central and northern Arizona.

Today I went on a usual little jaunt out to Bartlett Lake. It’s a fairly quick ride, usually started with a visit to the Cave Creek Coffee Company. Then off on the nicely curvy 20 miles of road out to Bartlett Lake. It’s close enough to town that you can just pop over for a quick morning ride, but it’s isolated enough that you feel refreshed and out of the city.
I couldn’t do that in Chicago!

It’s fun riding with people who I ride with frequently; you learn each others patterns and rhythms and riding styles. There is a synchronicity that happens while riding with a known group. There is a certain communication among bikers and it gets tighter once you have ridden so many miles together. An outside observer might think we read each others minds, but it’s more that we know our friends’ body language so well our response to a gesture or movement is almost instantaneous. In order to have a pleasant, not knocking into each other ride, we have to adhere to some agreed upon standards that you theoretically don’t have to discuss; it’s part of the motorcycle way. (“Motorcyclist’s Mind, Beginner’s Mind”?) But sometimes you find a rider who doesn’t ride in formation, who squiggles wherever on the road they want with an uneven rhythm. We don’t like riding with those guys and they don’t get invited back. This is all part of the Social contract, which as laid out by Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau, is both a philosophy on governance and community harmony.

Last night my boyfriend and I went out to eat with his nine year old daughter. He told her not to eat with her elbows on the table, then consulted her to not bounce around in her seat. When she asked the inevitable “Why not?” he talked to her about how when in public one needs to behave politely. This answer was not satisfactory, although she did settle down.

This started me thinking, “How does one explain the concept of the Social contract” to a nine year old?