Peter Limbrick writes: I do not need to be Democrat, Republican, Labour or Conservative to know that we are all in trouble when hate becomes the major ingredient of political debate. Most in danger are those of us in marginalised groups defined by religion, culture, ability, sexuality, etc. Mr Obama and Ms Merkel said in a joint statement last week:
‘We know it is our treatment of those most vulnerable that determines the true strength of our values.’ [i paper, 17/11/16]
This is more or less where my politics starts and finishes.
Paul Krugman in the New York Times International Edition on November 12th under the heading ‘Thoughts and hope for the horrified’ predicts:
‘Unfortunately, we’re not just talking about four bad years. Tuesday’s fallout will last for decades, maybe generations.’
And then he asks:
‘So where does this leave us? What, as concerned and horrified citizens, should we do? One natural response would be quietism, turning one’s back on politics. It’s definitely tempting to conclude that the world is going to hell, but that there’s nothing you can do about it, so why not just make your own garden grow?..
‘But that is, in the end, no way for citizens of a democracy — which we still are, one hopes — to live. I’m not saying that we should all volunteer to die on the barricades; I don’t think it’s going to come to that, although I wish I was sure. But I don’t see how you can hang on to your own self-respect unless you’re willing to stand up for the truth and fundamental American values.’
Perhaps neither quietism nor the barricades appeal to you in the wake of Brexit and the US election. But what about, with support for vulnerable people in mind, Caring Activism – not necessarily instead of political action or gardening but in addition?
So, what is Caring Activism?
Quoting from Caring Activism: A 21st century concept of care:
I am using the term ‘caring activism’ because it suggests strong, determined direct action with an attitude of working out what can be done immediately to help each other instead of looking automatically to authority for answers.
This essay suggests we could take more care of each other. It describes how caring activism could become a movement in which citizens become stronger as, with widespread cuts in public spending, states get smaller. The concept of caring activism is about taking responsibility for each other and never handing responsibility that is properly ours over to paid workers in any organisation. It is about taking an active and benign interest in our neighbours and the people who live on our patch.
Caring activism would consider every citizen as a potential caring activist…Some would have the positive motivation of wanting to contribute to their locality, their neighbourhood or their patch to help it become a better place for everyone to enjoy. Others would come with a wider concern for the wellbeing of people on this planet recognising the interplay of power and powerlessness, wealth and poverty, justice and injustice…health and disease.
With this mindset some people turn to traditional politics, others to marches and demonstrations…others to the Occupy movement (or whatever might evolve from it). Some would see caring activism as their preferred course of action in their endeavour to create a better world.
Caring activism must on principle operate below, beyond or outside government to provide vulnerable citizens with effective support that is not otherwise available to them under the administration operating at that time.
Caring Activism: A 21st Century concept of care
Written by Peter Limbrick
Edited by Professor Hilton Davis
Published by Interconnections in 2016