Forgive me for my civic duty fantasy about clearing the snow. It turns out that clearing the snow from the path outside your home could get you into trouble if someone slips over.
Last week in the House of Lords a Government whip warned in a debate that an accident may not be fault of the local authority but the householder. From every direction we seem determined to put so much fear into people, that we make individual action almost impossible. Once upon a time, dads felt it their duty to take that odd board nailed to a stick and tucked in the garage rafters and sweep the snow from their drives and paths. This monumental symbol of duty and self-reliance however is a thing of the past. Instead we wait for someone else to do it for us – trapped between a sapping dependency and fear of consequence.
If we want communities with active citizens we need some courage, examples and leadership. Not just in the formal structures we have come to understand and rely on but in the simple acts of looking out for neighbours, lending a helping hand and clearing your path of snow yourself. If we wait for someone else because we don’t care thats one thing. If we do nothing because we are scared, then thats something entirely different. Both factors working together are something that charities cannot ignore.
We might work hard individually to promote active involvement in our causes. But together we have a real stake in supporting people who could and should clear their own snow off their own paths in their own communities…