An articulate young woman in the audience of the BBC’s Question Time last night commented on the panel’s discussion on alcohol fuelled problems in city centres. Young people should be provided with more things to do, she suggested. Why, I asked the tv screen, can’t she and her friends organise something for themselves? How much imagination and resources would it take (less money than buying drinks all night, probably)? Why expect the local authority or government to do it for you?
But I shouldn’t be too hard on her. In general, we seem to expect that ‘they’ will do it for us. And ‘they’ (the experts and the authorities) have been only too happy to encourage us to think that way. So the responsibility for peaceful community life becomes that of the police. When they talk of policing with the consent of the community, they get it wrong. The community doesn’t exist to assist them in keeping law and order, their role is to assist the community. It’s primarily our responsibility. Likewise with schools, it’s the community’s responsibility (not just parent’s) to nurture and educate children. Schools assist and support. But we seem to prefer to hand children over to the professionals – and then complain if they get it wrong. In churches, there seems to be an increasing tendency to leave it all to the minister instead of recognising that the ministry of the church is collective not individual. Churches should be caring communities not self-centred groups who employ someone else to look after their spiritual needs and do a bit of good in the community.
Do we pay our taxes and make our church offerings so we don’t have to be bothered? So ‘they’ can do it for us?