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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Wednesday 3 December 2014

How Politics Kills the Good Samaritan and...


Friends, we are facing a great threat.  The Other Guy will take away everything you hold dear.  There isn't much time; your dollars, votes and other passive, non-critically thinking forms of support will ensure that Infallible Leader can keep the barbarians at bay and ensure manna for everyone, or at least ensure everyone has enough tax breaks to buy manna. 
Except those who are lazy, but they don't count anyway.  Can't commit sociology on a time crunch.
Modern politics, you see, is an experiment in behvioural economics.  Everything about the process is designed to catalyze passive actions and convince you that only Smokey can put out forest fires.
Add to that the growing narrative of competiveness emerging as those with resources become less and less inclined to give or do anything that doesn't show an immediate ROI.  Sacrifice is so inefficient, after all. 
The best social program is to throw 'em in the deep end and maybe sell them a rope if they've got the cash.
Politics is increasingly about the Divine Right of leaders and their court; civil society is increasingly each man for himself.  That's the lay of the land.
Is there room in this picture for Good Samaritans, or Every Day Political Citizens?
More than room, there's a need.  Yes, the system is designed to test, discourage, demoralize, defund and even vilify them, but that says more about the system than the social need.
Because when a storm hits, the vertical ladder doesn't matter.  Money, title and tightly scripted messaging no longer hold sway.
Leadership does.
When an individual has time, they may do good.  When they place their hand on a religious text or are asked to speak about altruism, their actions will subtly change to reflect.  That's basic behavioural economics.
What inspires culture change, however, is even more subtle, yet powerful beyond measure.
Politics creates false tensions and seeks to convince people they are helpless.  When a crisis hits, though, leaders emerge to show people what they, and only they, are collectively capable of.

The Master doesn't talk, she acts. When her work is done, the people say, “Amazing: we did it, all by ourselves!” -Lao-tzu.

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