Positivity can be a boon and is often desirable for a progressive campaign. But positivity comes in many forms, from inspirational optimism to Voltaire’s Candide ‘all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds’ , where there is an abdication of responsibility. Whilst Voltaire does not dismiss optimism, he offers a new practical precept, ‘we must cultivate our garden’
The call to ban something is not taken lightly. We have a growing understanding of the health and societal cost of private cars in cities that is compelling in its scale and breadth: Air pollution, noise pollution, urban diabetes and the epidemics of inactivity and obesity; congestion and the economically illiterate use of precious space; inefficiency of a transport system with private cars hogging road space that could be allocated to active travel; community severance . Not to mention the urgent need for climate action.
When the campaign to ban smoking in public places came along, it was opposed by a group called ‘Freedom to choose’ This freedom applied to people who wanted to smoke, not to those who didn’t want to inhale.
In order to ‘cultivate our garden’ sometimes we need to take a strong hand to something that is damaging valued life. As Enrique Penalosa stated, our children are an ‘indicator species’ We can plainly see that our children are not thriving in this traffic choked environment.