Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Monday, 6 August 2007

It's a Community Thing

Womble on Tour Junior II (that's my second child, in case you hadn't grasped it) played out his final cricket match of the season yesterday, on a glorious summer's morning in the beautiful setting that is our local cricket club.

He and his under-11 team have played ten games, home and away against other clubs, all within a ten-mile radius of our own. Each match has been faultlessly organised, well attended by parents and other family members, played in great spirit, on land usually owned and tended by the local cricket club. The results, insofar as viewed as important - and that's not very far - have been published in the local paper and on the League's website. Whenever we've played away we've been made to feel hugely welcome, and at each club a little cottage industry exists, selling tea, coffee and food to those watching. The umpiring's been fair and impartial and the whole atmosphere is overwhelmingly positive. I'm not party to the running of the League but I have no reason to believe that it is nothing other than excellent.

Come September and our lad will be starting the football circuit, which, likewise, is run exclusively by volunteers, helping out as and when they can to further what some people might term "the greater good". All over the country there are literally thousands of sports clubs like ours, run by people who willingly give up a few hours of their time because they can see an end-product with which they can identify.

To someone who generally distrusts the State and bemoans the fact that government is getting bigger almost by the day, these clubs are little bastions (can you have little bastions ?) of public-spirited communities pulling together and working for each other. Not a government official in site. No council "outreach" workers needed here, thank you very much. It all just happens.

So, if it can work for the small stuff like sports leagues, why can it not work for other, bigger projects too ? Why cannot local communities pull together more often and on a bigger scale, to help us look after our elderly, to help keep our streets clean, to help maintain our common land ?

I don't have all the answers, but I do know this. If the State didn't do these things, then the local communities would. It's the fact that the government tries to do so much - and so often fails to do it very well - that forces community spirit into retreat. People expect the State to do so many things that we, as commnunities, could do ourselves if only we were left to do it. And generally, the people could do it better.

This is actually something that David "please support me while I pretend to be a Conservative" Cameron has been banging on about, but Cameron being Cameron the key message gets lost because it is not backed up by any key underlying belief or ideology. I don't even know if it's a vote winner but I do know one thing; if we do not reverse the trend of an ever-expanding State with an ever-increasing level of involvement in everything we do, then we as a nation are heading for disaster. Someone needs to start fighting for individual and community empowerment, and they need to do it now.

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