Societal innovation can sound like a very grand term – and it is. This week I was asked by a friend ‘what can I do to help with the challenges facing society?’ An immediate answer presented itself in the aftermath of the destruction in Manchester – pick up a brush and go and help clean up. The question that was asked though is a ‘good question’ – what can the ordinary person do about the challenges facing our society today, tomorrow, and in the future?
From a young age I was taught about what was right and what was wrong. I was taught to be kind, to share my toys, to be polite. I was taught to walk on the outside of the pavement, to hold open doors, and to stand up on the bus for those less mobile than me. I was taught to read and to write. I was taught to add and subtract, to divide and to multiply. And there is more.
As I grew older I was taken on holiday by my grandparents where I learned about the sea, the tides, and the phases of the moon. I learned how to cook on an open fire, I learned that fire burns, I learned about what to do when a car breaks down, I learned how an egg can be used to repair a leaking radiator. I learned that my pale skin and the sun do not go together too well. And there is more.
At scouts I leaned how to pitch a tent, how to tie knots, how to iron a uniform, and I learned that a boy scout should always do his best to do is duty to god and to the queen.
In the background there were mentors, guardians, and others who cared about me. I had (and still have) parents whom live together. Neighbours with all-seeing eyes, neighbours who cared. A very kind lady called Laura Seex who gave me extra reading lessons and listened to me read.
And there is more – you get the message.
I wonder if the young people whom I saw on my television screen this week who were burning and looting in my city have the same memories to look back on or are experiencing anything like the support and upbringing that I had. I wonder.
Call to arms
Call in the troops? Rubber bullets? Shoot the lot of them? No
How about something far more practical. How about putting down the iPad once a week and volunteering to help at the local scout group? How about joining the Round Table or the local Rotary Club? How about an hour a week at the Samaritans? How about swapping the Trafford center for the local church hall occasionally? How about finding out about how to be a governor at a local school or how about spending an hour or so a week listening to children reading? And how about not buying that next gadget for your kids? as after all what they want, and probably need, is your presence not your presents.