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Protest and responsibility

Just as in many other European countries there are currently many protests in Germany: farmer protests against cessation of subsidies and the increased cost of living; and protests against far-right groups. All these protests are enlarged by online rhetoric, so that it really appears a crisis on many fronts. I recently read an article that compared the increased dissatisfaction online and in the streets with local government problems. Germany, as much of Europe, is heavily localised, with small communities having considerable autonomy requiring elected officials and administration. It is getting more and more difficult finding people that put their hand up for these responsible, demanding and mostly voluntary positions. Rather than putting in the hard work at the local level, people are concerned about global and national issues. They become part of mass movements. The author suggested that some of the societal breakdown was because people no longer act out of responsibility but rather out of anger and entitlement.

I thought that was very interesting, but hardly relevant for me here in New Zealand. Then I opened an email from my daughter’s school. It announced that there would be renewed elections for parent representatives on the school board. Apparently there had been no nominations received last year and the school was seeking new nominations now. Maybe in New Zealand, too, people are not really putting their hand up to take some responsibility in their community. I asked my wife whether she would consider a nomination. She said that everything is going well in that school, so she saw no need to get involved. I asked myself whether I should stand, but then concluded that I was already on enough trusts and organisations, which I could hardly give justice to at the moment. And I could imagine far more relaxed nights than turning up for board of trustee meetings.

Similar considerations would have been made by many other people. That might mean that important work is not done and the discussion that should have been had at a local level does not happen, so that a societal level we are further apart. Of course, we need to consider our ability to take on responsibility and not take on too much. We need to consider whether a particular task would be a good fit for us. But maybe we also need to encourage each other to be involved however we can be.