Government trying to solve ‘loneliness’?
October 16, 2012
David Eby should think twice before saying we’re a cynical bunch. City council might strike a task force to address that, too.
In all seriousness, this is one of those rare weeks where I actually agree with some of what David is saying. It’s great when neighbours actually talk with each another and lend a helping hand. It’s also great to be involved in your community, volunteer and get out and make new friends. It’s unfortunate that so many Vancouverites feel lonely and isolated.
However, creating a mayor’s task force filled with so-called experts on citizen engagement is not the answer.
Simply put, it’s not any government’s job to foster friendliness or community co-operation. In fact, I don’t believe any government could actually truly achieve this goal. There’s a reason charities exist to help the disadvantaged beyond government assistance — maybe because the big hand of government lacks the close, real human touch.
Friendliness and community involvement can never be mandated. They can only come from the hearts of citizens who feel invested in and connected to their community or neighbourhoods. Why are people detached from one another? Why don’t they all chip in to clean up that empty corner lot or look after the old lady across the street?
Could the answer be our enormous government? If the empty lot down the street is a mess, when was the last time you heard someone say “let’s get some folks together and clean up that mess?” What you are much more likely to hear is, “Why doesn’t the city do something about that?” Instead of helping the old lady across the street, some people are more likely to say, “Why doesn’t the province do more for her?”
Perhaps we’ve become too used to having government try and solve our collective problems. We pay high taxes and people might expect our problems to be taken care of in exchange for those taxes.
Community feeling is organic and cannot be created by government, no matter how well intentioned. What is going to make people care about their neighbours and communities is the feeling that they are all in it together, the feeling that they are part of something greater, something that matters.
And that’s something no mayor’s task force can ever do.