We are a crisis management society, a society that congratulates itself for solving problems that, in its ineptitude, it has created –
“Over the last two decades, our educational philosophy at every level has been more and more dominated by an instrumentalist model; less and less concerned with a building of virtue, character and citizenship – ‘civic excellence’ as we might say. And a good educational system in a healthy society is one that builds character, that builds virtue.
“Character involves … a deepened sense of empathy with others, a deepened sense of our involvement together in a social project in which we all have to participate.”
So says the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.
I agree, we are a crisis management society. Essentially laissez-faire in our approach. We prefer to leave well alone until there is a clear deviation from the norm. A banking crisis, a riot, a rotten press, an even more rotten copper or three or a disappointing world cup. Then like an angry manager we seek out someone or something to blame and unleash our fury in an attempt to get things ‘back to normal’.
Except, back to normal is back to being a crisis management society…
The Archbishop’s analysis, that blames the education system for a failure to instill a particular form of morality and character, strikes me as an attempt to further promote compliance and acceptance. To reset the threshold at which a crisis might be sparked just that little bit higher. It strikes me as yet another attempt by a laissez faire manager to postpone the next crisis. It also implies that the moral crisis in our society lies exclusively with those that take to the streets in order to threaten our communities rather than those that take to the boardrooms and the cabinet tables.
My analysis is a little different. People need to feel a degree of respect, dignity and power in their lives. They will do whatever it takes. They will organise if that helps, gangs, co-ops, social enterprises, lottery syndicates.
We need to stop being so laissez faire and make some major changes to ensure that access to respect, dignity and power is made much more accessible to many more people. We have to help people to find the keys to their preferred kingdoms. I suspect that our broken society will then pretty soon find ways to mend itself.
Because it is not so much broken as abused.