I recently read the phrase “Some days, it’s just not worth chewing through the straps” on someone’s online signature. With a wry smile I came to the conclusion that, Yes, some days it’s just too much like hard work out there, and that many of the basic paradigms of civic behaviour and politeness that I was brought up with seem to have become an increasingly rare commodity in modern life.
Now, before you dismiss this post as the ravings of a fortysomething craving for his lost youth, let me direct you to this Blog entry from the BBC’s Mark Easton – Do We All Need a Nudge?.
To which I think the answer is yes.
This article pulled together a few themes that I’m very interested in. The issues of civic responsibility, duties and rights has always been important to me. Many people who know me will be sorely tired at my usual rant of ‘Too many people who know all their rights and undertake none of their responsibilities’. The one aspect of Gordon Brown’s premiership that has encouraged me in any way, shape or form was reflected in a quote from the PM in Easton’s piece – “people themselves adopting the work ethic, the learning ethic and aiming high”. It may be rare for me to agree with ‘Wee Gordon’, but he’s right on the money here.
People need to adopt the habit and attitude of learning, working and aiming high; I’m hoping to encourage this in the social and community project field by a new project of mine (still under construction, but feel free to take a look) – CommunityNet – which I’ll be formally launching in the near future. I have a great belief in communities and individuals helping themselves, and shaking off the ‘nanny state’ and ‘dependency culture’ that seems to have grown up in the UK in recent years.
A ‘nudge in the right direction’ is perhaps the best thing we can all do to help this happen.
Catch people doing things right, set a personal example in all that you do, dedicate some time or resources to community projects that matter to you, be a good friend and neighbour, and show genuine respect to those you deal with. All good things that have become almost platitudes in the last decade or so; perhaps it’s time for us all to be nudged to making small changes that will make the world a more pleasant place to live in.
Mao Tse Tung said ‘The long march starts with a single step.’; what long march will your small step start off?