Reading on the Bus

How many of you read on the bus? Maybe you don’t ride the bus. My work commute takes 50 minutes, composed of a seven minute bus commute at the start, followed by a 30 minute tram ride on the Number 15 Geneva tram, and ending with an eight minute TPG Number 5 bus ride. In between there are short sections of foot propulsion.

So how do you spend the commute time. Some people do nothing other than remain in their thoughts. Many are a captive audience for the free commuter newspapers that are sprinkled about on seats and available at the commuter newstands. These newspapers rarely challenge the mind. Who wants to be mentally challenged at 7.30 in the morning! Our local versions regularly feature celebrities found drunk in nightclubs, the latest serial killing somewhere in the globe, bizarre happenings just about anywhere, fashion, sport and entertainment. That’s it. Perhaps the most stimulating feature in the newspaper are the cartoons and the daily crossword puzzle. Even Sudoku is too challenging at that hour.

My current commuter reading choice is David Archard’s Children: Rights and Childhood from Routledge. It is a challenge at any hour of the day. But well worth the effort. In my view it is the best of the bunch when it comes to recommending a ‘solid’ reference text on the philosophical, legal and political aspects of children’s rights.

Archard pulls no punches. Most of us would like to believe that the international instruments protecting children and young people are effective, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Archard constantly reminds his readers that the instruments reflect a Western liberal post-enlightenment view of how children and young people ought to be treated. The Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) whose twentieth anniversary we celebrate this year is a case in point. As a statement of an ideal it is fine. But we have a long way to go before it becomes even minimally implemented in most countries. The USA and Somalia have yet to even ratify the Convention. And in many countries the situation for children has barely progressed at all.

I suspect there will be much to occupy my mind on the commuter run for a long time to come!

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