A Christmas Wish
This Christmas and all year round people should have as a right the ability to say of their place:
- The necessities are here, they are inexpensive and they are close at hand.
- Services are available, but not overpowering.
- You can contribute and participate, and truly make a difference around here and beyond.
- Here you can feel accepted, people have empathy.
- Here people work for social justice and inclusion.
- Here the sense of community is strong and our state institutions work to support local residents to keep it so, never doing for us what we can do together as neighbours.
- Here everyone can find the resources to have enough to live a good life.
- Here our views and actions have an impact beyond our community.
For far too many people around the world, and many not very far from where we live, this Christmas marks yet another, where they cannot say these thing about their place.
I believe as well as universal right of access to such things as listed above, we need the right and power to produce many of these, as well as the right and power to determine the outcome of what others produce in our name. The right to produce is at the very heart of our right as citizens, and it is intimately wedded to freedom of expression and free association. That right if it is to create sustainable outcomes must come inside out and community up. Of course we need service too, hence the expression ‘inside out’. There are things we need from outside of ourselves, our families and our communities. But deep down we all know, that we cannot know what we need from outside our circles of competency and choice until we have determined what we have.
Too often we outsource our capacities to salaried strangers, before connecting with near neighbours. This is not surprising given that we’ve been raised from a young age to believe in Santa Claus, a magical figure that can make our wishes come true.
What we’ve lost sight of is the original story of St. Nicolas, one where a young person who was over monetized started to redistribute some of what he and others had to those who were undermonetized and exploited. It was a practical act of civil disobedience, a stand for social justice. This was a brave act but not a magical one. It was an authentic human act, not a mythical one.
Many of the change makers who miss the mark are to my mind, wannabe Santa Claus’s, who do not understand the origin story. Instead of reminding us that we become the spirit of Christmas by the actions we take all year round, they encourage us to outsource those functions to them, tacitly casting them as the hero and us the grateful recipients.
“The trouble with paternalists is that they want to make impossibly profound changes, and they choose impossibly superficial means for doing so.” – Jane Jacobs
These people are like the Santa’s on the side street, even as children we knew they were not the real deal. But somehow we all kept playing along. And here we are.
My wish this Christmas is that we would recognize that we and our neighbours through our deep commitment to each other are the real Santa Claus. The miracle does not happen on 34th street, it happens on our street, when enough of us both demand for each other and produce with each other the conditions where everyone can say of their place: “Here everyone can find the resources to have enough to live a good life.”
Like St. Nicolas had to do, that will require that we commit to breaking some rules and creating some new traditions.
Cormac and all the Nurture Development team