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Friday, November 1, 2013

Civic Duty- Is It Dead?

Is Civic Duty dead or perhaps it absconded with Common Manners
The following is my opinion and certainly not meant as a blanket judgement on all circumstance but I use the following as an example.
First let's define what I mean by civic duty and I would like to use this definition as proffered;

"civic duty is to be a good citizen, obey the laws, serve in the military in time of need, be active in community activities that are supportive of something positive. These are the types of things that enable masses of people to live in proximity and prosper."

A patient at the clinic once commented to me that when he was in paying his rates that he also asked them for a sum of money to cover the petrol he used to mow his nature strip. He didn't expect to be given the compensation but he was serious about his resentment. But surely that is just a part of civic duty I said whereupon he shifted uncomfortably. I remember asking my Dad when I was very little why he mowed the footpath and he said it was just being a good and helpful citizen and made pedestrian ways more pleasant and enhanced the surrounding environment (or words to that effect as I was very little but I understood the meaning). It was always once generally accepted that this was appropriate practice but there is a strident note creeping into people's voices on all matters and it centres around "my rights", "I pay" and "not my responsibility"
It is yet another way we have decided to turn our backs on our neighbours and bunker down in our own little environments. 
I believe council resources are stretched and I think we all have to take part and pitch in. Shop keepers once used to sweep their paths but I never see this any longer. Some people have impossible verges but most people still have some sort of access along their road or to their letterbox.

There is no-one living next door and the grass is mostly long all year round except for a strip that Craig mows so the postman can access next door's letterbox. It's just a common care and courtesy he extends that says I care about your comfort and safety as you go about your job performing a service for us.
When we visit a park or walk along somewhere and we find rubbish, we clean it up. We didn't make it but does arguing the point make things right? If we just pass over rubbish in public areas we are sending a message that leaving rubbish lying around is OK. Gradually things become the norm and habits form. I would much rather the habits be for good.
Our local environment is just one small insidious effect of the erosion of our decline in civic duty.
More alarming is the decline in volunteer groups like the Parents and Friends at schools, The Lions Club and Rotary. Even our Neighbourhood Watch that Craig and I letterbox drop for looks like folding because there is no interest. Our communities are in real crisis and we need to step up if we are to continue to live together and prosper. 
Please tell me some feel good stories in your community. Convince me that civic duty is not dead in your area.


  1. Well you certainly have me thinking Tanya. I know my neighbours ( most of them ) wouldn't bat and eye at helping each other out, lending tools etc we have a nice little community in this street and we all ( except two ) come out, chat in the street, know each others children and some have been into each others homes. I do tend to think that it is certainly not what it used to be though, the civic duty people feel. :(

    1. Keep it alive Tammy because it is the very fabric of living and prospering together

  2. Tanya i belong to an organisation called Shoestring Gardening and it has one or two paid part time workers but mostly it is made up of volunteers who donate their time and effort to encourage people to create veggie patches in their own garden and to be more self sustainable. The property where courses are held has chickens (i helped build the coop and introduce the chooks) are cared for daily by volunteers and the Learning Garden is tended by volunteers. Many people are isolated in our community given a huge range of factors including race, religion and income. These workshops which are free bring everyone together under the basis that Hey, we all eat, we all need to learn and we can do so together. Yeh for community minded volunteers!!!!!! I also mow my neighbours nature strip. It is their only grassed area and they are elderly. Why wouldnt you? Many dont. :( We just paid a fortune to have our nature strip completely dug out and landscaped with tuscan toppings and a boxed tree. It is our front door, so to speak. I dont care that it doesnt belong to me.

    1. That's a great feel good story and very encouraging

  3. Tanya, watch on Rhonda's reading list Off The Grid. There is one passage that says "If you cannot make sense of the Global (referring to the collaspe of many countries infrustructure) you control the local." The future lies in becoming part of a local community that works together for common goals such as self sustainable lifestyle. Ok go watch it.....

  4. The village I live in, in general, maintains a sense of community. But I have to say that the wider picture isn't so good round here. I think everyone is so wrapped up that "it's someone else's job / responsibility" that people forget their own responsibilities, and a small act of kindness can reap far greater rewards than the original action.

  5. My street is changing at an alarming rate from single homes to multi storey fortresses where one hardy sees the inhabitants. Lucikily we still have lovely neighbours and we all look out for each other, feed each other's pets, collect mail etc, but I suspect this won't be forever. Maybe I need to make a real effort to get to know the new residents as they start to move in.

  6. There was a really successful work bee at our local primary school a few weeks back... we didn't go with our new bub and all but if it hadn't been for that we would have and many many others did. The children have a lovely nature park now.


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