For want of a neighbour Democracy was lost


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Benjamin Franklin in The Way to Wealth (1758) wrote:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost,

for want of a shoe the horse was lost;

and for want of a horse the rider was lost;

being overtaken and slain by the enemy,

all for want of care

about a horse-shoe nail.

-Benjamin Franklin (1758)

It’s a simple ditty, and it has many versions, but the message is always the same: attend to the small stuff because it has all kinds of imperceptible but nonetheless important impacts on the bigger stuff.

In last week’s blog I set out two scenarios. In the second I tried to show how, through a process of identifying and connecting gifts and local assets people were able to grow power through collective action, and in turn positively impact their local economy.

The second scenario is a David and Goliath tale of the kind shared in Malcolm Gladwell’s most recent book of the same name, which reminds us again that we must make ‘small’ the new ‘big’. Because if we don’t, we may find that it is not just our local economies that become displaced, but also our: health and wellbeing, environment, and democracy itself.

To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin’s:

For want of a neighbour the neighbourhood was lost,

for want of a neighbourhood the citizen was lost;

and for want of a citizen democracy was lost;

being overtaken by consumerism, technocracy and globalisation,

all for want of care

about a neighbour.


Cormac Russell

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  • Maureen

    succinct and to the point Cormac!

    January 28, 2015 at 9:44 pm
  • Brilliant article Cromac. Short, sweet and to the point. Why can;t our MP’s talk like this?

    April 19, 2015 at 1:20 pm

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