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Putting Citizens and the Community First

Our modern lifestyle and the competitions we face dictate that we must work harder than ever. More so, with great advancements in science and technology, we now boast of greater wealth, enlightenment and opportunities than the generations before. Yet, within this new order, sadly some of our neighbourhoods and regions have neither wealth nor opportunities. To many people, life remains a daily struggle.

The downturn in economic fortunes of nations, meant austerity has become a handy excuse for a 'do nothing strategy' by our leaders. Whilst the political elites shy away from their responsibility, we watch as the consequences unfold on our streets and borders. The senseless ongoing ideological conflicts have not helped. Rather, they have highlighted the depth of poverty, hopelessness, division, insecurities and desperation across the globe.

Consequently, the failure to put humanity first have resulted in millions of people abandoning their homes and communities. In despair, they search for an Eldorado for themselves and their children. The irony is, where the 'natives' see mass immigration and a breakdown of their way of life; the 'others' see hope because ‘any place is better than what they left behind’.

For those of us who are opportuned to live a life that resembles relative peace and tranquillity, our battle is of a different kind. Social forces beyond our control have forced us out of our communities into a world of individuality, which have unwittingly condemned us to urban anonymity. With neither guilt nor pleasure, we soldier on in hope that tomorrow would be better.

It is within this panoply of human contradictions and tragedies that we search for answers, to questions we already knew the answers. How do we help the less privileged? Who is going to pay for the wall or, how do we stop the perilous journeys across the Mediterranean? How can we forge and maintain meaningful relationships with other people? Whose community or life is it anyway, and why should we care?

We have to believe the notion that a better society, with energised local communities, is not an illusion. That, through collective effort, we can create inclusive and fairer communities where citizens come first. Even during these austere times, we do still have the capacity to reshape the future for the less fortunate.

It was Professor Jonathan Sacks who said that community is a society with a human face…it is where problems are best understood and solved, where individuals not otherwise politically engaged can be enlisted in the service of others.

As a Community Organiser, I have to believe the transformative power of an organised community would help re-enforce our citizenship. That, a discourse such as ours, will empower people to take ownership of their environment and destiny. It can also help produce accountable leaders, groups and individuals with the ability to initiate debates and provide good leadership for a fairer society. This is the dream, which remains at the heart of the social change and values we seek.

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