There are many groups and people who want our society and nation to have one united direction and purpose that guides democracy and government decision making.
In 2003, Kenneth Douglas Cocks wrote in Deep Futures that the last time Western societies had a clear purpose was before the industrial revolution and the rise of individualism. The purpose used to be to serve god and the church, but we know that society has changed and a return to these pre-industrial times is not possible. The good news is that our society is slowly moving away from individualism to a more collective culture. The signs are everywhere. Just like the war cry of ‘Egalité’ (equality) during the French revolution in 1798, equality is called for in Australia: equality in pay, equality in gender issues, equality in employment, equality in social advantage, equality in ethnicity, and equality in marriage. The war cry today is (still) more peaceful than in the French past. This war cry echoes through independent media, from the social sector, and more and more from society focused businesses and philanthropists. The war cry is getting louder as inequality increases.
The CSIRO in the Australia 2050 project report state that a vision is desperately needed to guide Australia through an increasing complex world and uncertain future. The authors say that a vision can support coherent societal responses to meet the two greatest challenges: environmental conditions and social equity.
It takes courage to develop a vision to set an aspirational direction for society. When you Google Australia’s National Vision you get lots of visions: one for Australian Land Registries, one for Australia’s public libraries, one for Australia in an Asian Century and education, and one for eHealth, but none for Health in general just on the first Google page. But it seems no-one has had the courage to develop one for the Nation. No clear succinct statement of what kind of society we want to be. In the past it used to be the Lucky Country, the Clever Country, or the country where you got a Fair Go. But a family with both parents working full time, struggling to make ends meet, will wonder about their luck or their Fair Go. And being clever in a world gearing up on education is no longer sufficient.
So it seems that when it comes to direction and finding a new destination, our society is rather driverless. If uncertainty is something we find hard to deal with, I find it flabbergasting that we are comfortable sitting in a driverless car. We know with certainty that this car will crash. The fact is that the future will not take care of itself as long we focus on the present and on individualism.
Barrack Obama recently said that real change does not come from the government, it comes from the people. We, the people, need to stop being passengers and jump into the driver’s seat. It is for us to create the vision to steer our country into the future. I am ready. Are you?