In the little town that I grew up in there was a strong community. The community had many ways of connecting with each other and through that connection, supporting each other.
There was the netball club, the scouts, the mothers club, the farmers co-operative, the church and even the Friday night drinks at the pub club. Everyone was connected with everyone, which meant they shared stories and experiences, they knew when someone needed help and they used those networks to keep the community and all its members strong.
This is an old model. The busier we get, the less time there is to maintain those connections, the bigger we get, the more people can fall through the cracks and the more degraded our community becomes, the more degraded our community becomes the more government needs to step in and support us.
In the news this week we hear that our emergency departments are full of people with minor ailments. To me it’s no wonder. The more degraded our community becomes, the more reliant we become on formal structures such as hospitals and schools to support us and the more those structures can’t meet our needs.
We have become helpless through our isolation; no longer is there someone next door for a sound piece of advice, no longer is there someone to look at us and see we are not alright, no longer are those little community connections easing our burden.
Rather than rethinking our government structures and systems, maybe we should rethink our community structures. We could develop formal and informal networks to support each other so that we can become empowered and rely only on our government structures on when we truly need them.