The other day I was walking around my neighbourhood when a woman stopped me to ask for directions. “Where is de Courcelle street,” she asked. I pointed her in the right direction, and left with a spring in my step.
There’s something great about being asked to do your civic duty, either giving people directions or helping an old lady with her groceries. I have a feeling a lot of people like it. Yet in this society we are asked to do it less and less. This sense of duty and the muscle that accompany it are atrophying because we are rarely called upon to exercise it.
I think acting global, while still acting local, is possible and within reach for most people. They just have to shift their mindset when dealing with, for example, the web, and then shift again when dealing with a local merchant. The economics of each of those things is different, so your ethical compass should be different for each of them, too.
I have a feeling that the best models lie at the extremes of this line: very global, or very local. It’s just a feeling I have, though. Can’t support it– yet.
But in either place, global or local, you need to be a good neighbour. On the web it means to link to your sources, to ask permission, or to leave comments. In person it may mean picking up the mail when someone is out of town. There is a sense of duty in either one of these places.
As our sense of neighbourhoods change, our duties change. How is it changing for you?