By Bernard Joyce.
If things don’t change, they’ll stay the way they are.
~ Brady, E. (Village Postman, c1990)
In the early 90’s we asked the local postman in an interview for the parish magazine. As a twenty something, I was quite amused by the local postman’s philosophical outlook, wondering did it even warrant editorial approval for our prestigious publication.
The postman was no philosopher but he was right. It’s just that it took me about a quarter of a century of living in the same village and now the age that he was then to realise that things had stayed the way they were.
Many villagers in rural Ireland might argue that things haven’t even managed to stay the same.
The postal round hasn’t changed much apart from the obligatory estates of semi-detached houses that sprouted during the boom years, like facial hairs on a teenager OR the village enhancements of stone walls and cherry trees, like Brylcream sprucing up the village to look like a town.
Much of rural Ireland seems to be stuck in an eternal pubescent state never growing up but always wishing it would, living from week to week, allowance to allowance.
We don’t have the village name on the envelopes any more, resulting in the annual panic of “which John, Mary and family” do we need to send a Christmas card back to!
You’re as likely to see Hong Kong as Cong on the postmark now since the village went global.
Perhaps our postman was wrong, things have changed so much but they’ve still changed the same.
The information age has come and gone as the internet streams not just knowledge but products and services. It educates, entertains and even employs us.
But what about Change?
The philosophers and psychologists tell us that “Change has to come from within”, that we must “want to change” and even according to Mahatma Gandhi, that “we should become the change we want to see in the world”.
The change we wish to see in the world must happen first within what writer Stephen Covey described as our “Circle of Influence” (Covey 2001)
The village or community offers a readymade “circle of influence” from where we can start to change.
- First we need to ask the question: where are we and where do we want to go? Let’s harness the academic and technological resources available to identify the underlying problems and their sources so that we can create a workable vision for the future.
- Many of our communities revolved around public spaces such as the church, post office and pub. Let’s re-evaluate our concepts of public spaces and create a vision for spaces that are all-inclusive, attractive and which bring people together.
- Create child-valued communities, spaces to explore and play (not just playgrounds). Get our children out of stuffy overcrowded classrooms. Adapt Self-organised learning environments (S.O.L.E.) models using technology for local schools (Help design the future of learning, 2016)
- Keep resources in the local community. So much of the resources in our community particularly financial leak out of our community through how and where we spend our money. Let’s create local economic plans at community level to harness the multiplier effect to create and retain prosperous local communities (NEF, 2008)
Covey, S.R. (2001) The 7 habits of highly effective people. United Kingdom: Franklin Covey Co.
Help design the future of learning (2016) Available at: https://www.theschoolinthecloud.org/ (Accessed: 10 September 2016).
New Economics Foundation (NEF) -(2008) Plugging the Leaks: Local Economic Development. Available at: http://www.pluggingtheleaks.org/ (Accessed: 10 October 2016).