Is is just me or do political years feel particularly grim? With this election cycle being (or feeling) much longer than most, I feel fairly overwhelmed with negativity at almost every report of political news. As much as I enjoy Rachel Maddow— and how much she understands and enjoys politics— I don't know how much more I can take.
Some of my political ponderings have turned to the idea of social capital. I think the body politic wouldn't be quite as ratchet as it is if people were more connected, not that people who feel a part of their communities hold hands and sing Cum By Ya at every opportunity, but they aren't so anxious to be a part of something that they'll eagerly join a hate group in order to feel security and to have their self-worth supported. Instead, I regard social capital as such:
... a wide variety of quite specific benefits that flow from the trust, reciprocity, information, and cooperation associated with social networks. Social capital creates value for the people who are connected and - at least sometimes - for bystanders as well.I'm sure that, by now, you've heard the story of how American cyclists were behind the paved roads that drivers use today. That's probably not the best example of reciprocity, but the folks at BetterTogether.org are on it. One of their suggestions for building social capital is "be nice when you drive" (#119). Currently, I'm in a political frame of mind, but I'll definitely be revisiting this list for ideas that are more artsy, craftsy, and social. I'd like to consider some of the ways we can build our social capital and be good citizens the way our suffragist foremothers-on-two-wheels did.
From the list:
- 2. Attend town meetings
- 3. Register to vote and vote
- 40. Participate in political campaigns
- 41. Attend a local budget committee meeting
- 53. Run for public office
- 57. Offer to serve on a town committee
- 62. Stand at a major intersection holding a sign for your favorite candidate
- 64. Host a potluck supper before your Town Meeting
- 70. When somebody says "government stinks," suggest they help fix it