Saturday, 24 March 2012

Ballycastle Community Development Group

Knitting the Fabric of Society

Prime minister Margaret Thatcher, talking to Women's Own magazine, October 31 1987"

"I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it. 'I have a problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm homeless, the government must house me.' They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation."

I disagree. Margaret's comments appear to be a reaction to the rights culture whereas surely in the best of societies there's give and take, there's a balance between rights and responsibilities. It was my pleasure and privilege to be part of Corrymeela and the Junior Council of Social Services (JCSS) where, although the emphasis was on giving, there was a real bonus in receiving. As a friend - now in middle age - put it, "JCSS - four letters that changed my life." Corrymeela's founder, Ray Davey, certainly changed my life.

Robert Putnam (2000):

"Whereas physical capital refers to physical objects and human capital refers to the properties of individuals, social capital refers to connections among individuals – social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them. In that sense social capital is closely related to what some have called “civic virtue.” The difference is that “social capital” calls attention to the fact that civic virtue is most powerful when embedded in a sense network of reciprocal social relations. A society of many virtuous but isolated individuals is not necessarily rich in social capital."

Ballycastle Community Development Group has been formed very recently. This is a group set up 'so people can exchange views on whats going on in Ballycastle and what they would like to see to improve the town' and hopefully see some of the ideas translated into action. It deserves a following wind.