Your social inheritance sets you up with a head start in building social capital. Social capital is what gets us through the hard times and gives us a moral compass when we feel lost and things just don’t seem to make sense to us. Our parents built up quite a lot of it; social capital that is. Regardless of how much money they had in the bank, they knew the same thing George Bailey, learned in the 1930’s classic; It’s a Wonderful life, that being, “No man is a failure who has friends.”
Not a night goes by that you don’t hear about the mortgage crisis or some other dilemma effecting hundreds of people across America. A half a million people lost their jobs last week and shockingly some eighty thousand even quit looking for jobs. I don’t know how you live without working, but apparently a lot of people are. To those of us still with jobs we can only shudder to think what would we do in the same position?
Someone who has social capital would turn to those around them and seek help and know if their neighbor was in their shoes they would help them as well. An understood unwritten contract that is the glue that holds communites together. In many cases their friends would be there for them without even asking. Kind of hard to do if your main community of friends is spread out over the internet!
We have come to think of ourselves as independent. Sure we mail a check or two off to the needy, but we seldom help those around us by showing up at a food shelter or goodwill center to help those less fortunate than ourselves. For that matter, how many of you actually know your neighbors? And by that I mean their kids name, and what they do?
My one neighbor has eight kids and is a conservative church going radical that would love to tear the Obama sign out of my yard, but I still know him. I’ll admit that I don’t know all the kids names but I know a few. As for the other three around me I can speak to them but I only know ones first and last name. When you leave for work before dark and come home when it is dark again, you get little time to associate with neighbors.
One might say that is what life is like now days! But does it have to be? Can we afford to let it be? Did you know in the thirties that when they were foreclosing on people during the great depression, neighbors would actually show up and move the evicted back into their houses and set watch to keep the bank form evicting them again? That sense of community does not exist today. It is reported that at least ten percent of Americana mortgages are in foreclosure and at least that many people are a month behind in their payments. Will you neighbor disappear in the night and you not even know it? Would you ever think of moving someone back into their houses? Or do you beleve FOX news reports, they all desevered what they got?
It’s a dilemma that only getting to know one another better can address. We stand perfectly ready to help complete strangers, but don’t even know when our neighbors are in trouble? It is about time we realized that investing in social capital may turn out to be the best social security we ever invested in and the best part is that it is never too late to start doing so……..