Monday, June 29, 2020

Reclaiming And Redefining

In the wake of COVID 19, Glen Pearson writes, we are reconsidering the notion of social capital:

What is social capital?  It is actually something quite real, practiced, and built upon.  It is about reciprocity between people and groups.  It is about a trust learned in hardship, a network of practical needs and ideals, and a rediscovery of civil society as something more powerful than government, more enriching than finances, and more social than anything social media can attempt.  It is only actualized by doing, not by preaching, or soapboxing, or manufacturing press releases.   It takes the word “capital” and recaptures it back to its original sense of a place where people gather to make decisions instead of leaving it as some kind of financial resource.
Social capital has little to do with people holding money in common.  The capital we are talking about here is cooperation, collaboration, the putting aside of differences, the use of the political to locate common ground instead of mud to throw.  It includes those historic and shared virtues like truth-telling, the importance of personal stories, the following through on promises, forgiveness, collective and individual, restitution, the essence of faith, and the transformation of collective action.
The core of social capital, its ultimate reason for existence, is for the public good, not private enrichment.  This is perhaps too much to ask on a regular basis, since all of us need a measure of selfishness and a certain preoccupation with our own activities.  But in a crisis – war, economic depression, natural disasters, and, yes, a pandemic – the ability to put one’s personal pursuits aside in an effort to achieve the security of the greater good is not only possible, but historically quite prevalent and doable.

At this moment it's essential that we think seriously about social capital:

If we don’t capture the spirit of our unique possibilities of rediscovering social capital during this time of not only national, but global crisis, then the post-COVID-19 future will proceed without us – devoid of our input, stripped of our ideals, and ultimately uncaring of our tomorrows or our children’s tomorrows.

We have spent the last fifty years fixated on economic growth:

We all recognized one another at a distance on our way to materialistic bliss in recent decades, but we were too busy buying to be building.  In the process, our citizenship power got away from us as our purchasing power became our fixation.  But now, in this pandemic, we are suddenly noticing one another again, respecting the health of others, donating like never before to our most vulnerable, and even showing remarkable restraint from pounding one another to death on social media.  Something is going on that’s quite beautiful in its own way, as communities recover their sense of collective need and collective action.

This is the time to reclaim our rights as citizens and to redefine our purposes. Otherwise, all of this pain will have been wasted.

Image: LinkedIn


Rural said...

As someone somewhat isolated from lot of 'social interaction' for some time, which I suspect is a rather new experience for many folks I must admit to being out of the loop as to the interaction between 'Social Capital' (I.e face to face) and 'Social Media' . As one who avoids most social media (facebook and the like) I will admit to wondering what effect the change in balance between these communications will have upon society, is the enforced isolation enhancing our interactions even though it is mostly 'online' or further moving us to 'talking' by poking at our keyboards … I am now Owen!

Owen Gray said...

I think the jury's still out on that question, Rural. The internet can increase social connectivity even as it spreads and magnifies mountains of garbage.

the salamander said...

.. nowhere in that excellent perspective did I detect anyhing resembling 'OUR' Conservative Party's reality. I've made the point before that under Scheer or Kenney or Harper.. we were and are seeing the Party of Contraryism.. & the levels of radioactive partisanship were & are like a cloud.. an ideological pedantic fog. I am not pimping Liberals or NDP or Green or Communist or flying spaghetti monsters.. This is simply what I perceive since Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay jammed the Reform Fantasy Louts into a 'tory' branded honey wagon. Its being re-enacted in Alberta by Jason Kenney now.. and the rest of Canada plus Albertans are getting a ringside view of Harperism and 'Alberta Firewall Ideology. It disgusts me.. The hostage or victim is Canada and Alberta.. and the media 'grooming' and self fluffing is continuous. The pretentions of being the 'Great Education Experts and the Great Medical Experts is just non stop insult.. and arrogance. Meanwhile the Environmental trashing is unabated and the misrepresentation of Pollution Control and 'World Class Standards' is essentially criminal misdirection and methane escape. The vaunted 'sweet waters' of the remediated tar sands tailings ponds as promised by Stephen Harper, Ray Novak, Joe Oliver and Peter Kent have turned out to be fabricated toxic smarm.. fatuous boasting and ass farting. Canada dodged a bullet when Trudeau scraped by and was re-elected .. Just try to image Canada with a PM like Scheer

Owen Gray said...

I agree that we dodged a bullet when Scheer went down to defeat, sal. But his replacement is waiting in the wings. And, if he or she is a better salesperson than Scheer, we'll be in deep trouble.

the salamander said...

.. I don't see anyone 'in the wings' Owen.. No Reform rump remnant.. and so why even bother? Glib windbag Jason Kenney ride to the rescue ? They should just let it die.. or reveal itself as simply a rural branch of the US Republican Church of Evangelical Drones

Owen Gray said...

The four contenders are mere shadows, sal. Perhaps the Conservatives should follow the advice that Bob Dole gave the Republicans: Burn the party down and start over again.