Home Thoughts on Civic Awareness and Responsibilities
It never ceases to amaze me how we can slip so quickly into bad habits on these islands. We talk about the importance of civic awareness – a relatively simple and no-nonsense activity that should really come to us as second nature ( I must say, that it does come as second nature to a percentage of us who live here – the numerous blogs and letters to the papers I read do vouch for this!) but I am worried that maybe we are tarnishing our image by not doing enough to stamp out crass ignorance and arrogance (yes, arrogance is the word in this case because those people who show no respect for others and act uncivilly are arrogant) and to provide some chance of turning these islands back into the hospitable and attractive islands we were once renowned for.
We have history, we have culture, we even have traditions and no tour operator worth his salt is ever going to let any tourist forget that. But what are these qualities without the soul that is our own nature and behaviour? Living history is a quality that only we can build. It would be like turning buildings and whole villages into lively and colourful attractions...but wait just a minute I am off again to Utopia.
Only the other day I was at a Village Festa in one of our largest localities and it sickened me to see people turn a normally decent place into an absolute pig sty. The Local Councils spend enough of our hard earned tax to install Bring In Sites and bins for litter, and only a few paces from one of these sites there it was.... a mound of filth, plastic bottles, half eaten food, paper bags..the lot! Who could have been responsible for this utterly irresponsible act? Certainly not the government. Definitely not the Local Council and, somehow I doubt this had anything to do with the Festa itself. No, I fear this is just the result of some mindless souls who never felt they really belonged anywhere. And that is the intrinsic problem with littering and general environmental vandalism – those people feel they do not belong, they want to be able to live apart from a community, to do what they like, support pure anarchy and simply act like modern day barbarians.
Civic awareness is all about harmonising with society, fusing into a community and being individuals, by all accounts, but caring about that community at the same time – it is all about being responsible. There was a time when this irresponsibility had political connotations, you were beaten up simply because you disagreed with what the party in government decided, you were discriminated because your eyes may not have been the right colour for the job and no one did anything about that – at least, not till it was nearly too late. Now that we have realised how important harmonious living is for our society we have to ensure that we never fall prey to that sort of autocratic behaviour, and the danger is still there – whether it is the mindless soul who litters our streets or our doorsteps or whether it is the next possible government.
Civic awareness is something that can turn our islands into a hell or a paradise for tourists. It is up to each and every one of us to make sure that our behaviour reflects the level of hospitality and service that has attracted visitors in the past and has added value to our other, more tangible products. The government and authorities are investing in our future, but like the proverbial horse – we have to quench our own thirst, no one can do that much for us.