The same pattern has held true in the workplace, church, social clubs and community planning. There are those who enjoy attending meetings, making rules for others to follow and generally strutting about, but they may not be the ones who make the phone calls, organize the fund raiser, spend hours listening, and come up with the creative solutions to road blocks. In fact, those who prefer to get things done are often inclined to think meetings are a huge waste of time and more can be done with a few emails.
In Sociology classes my observation was validated as we studied research on how groups actually function as compared to how they are described as functioning. I still have my Sociology 101 book because it was such a great cure for insomnia. Over the years I have come to respect that boring volume for it’s meticulous documentation of how the stated goals of the official leadership come into conflict with the unstated goals of the rest of the community. In this case, they talked about the employers’ needs for productivity as compared to the workers’ needs for job security, companionship, and health and safety. The goal in many of my sociology classes was in how to identify and work with the real leadership in any community. Basically, those who provide social services and promote social justice are the true leaders.
On a national scale, we’ve seen this pattern of secondary leadership structures developing to fill in the gaps where the acknowledged power structure fails. The black church historically has been more likely to provide social services to their community than the state government. Gangs as much as we are horrified by the very word, are more into meeting the basic needs of their members for food housing and companionship than our official government. Terrorist cells fill in the vacuum left when the official government fails to meet the needs of the community. Unfortunately, these alternate governments are not always benign to the surrounding community. On the other hand, some alternate governments like the little old lady who started making sack lunches for students who don’t have lunches are beneficial to the whole community, while being an example for others to follow.
So, what can we expect as our official government cuts back their role in providing social services and refuses to act to enforce minimum standards of social justice and safety for communities? We can expect more participation in cults, stronger gang affiliations, domestic terrorist cells. This may not sound nice but people will do what they have to do to meet their basic needs.
As responsible citizens, what can we do? Step one is to admit that the official government has abdicated their role in providing an environment where the basic needs of individuals are met. Next, look for the people with the ideas. Look for the helpers-the people who are unloading the truck for the food-bank. Who is giving food to the food bank? Who provides medical services? Who offers words of encouragement? It doesn’t really matter why or how our official government removed itself from the social services/social justice arena. Our job is to survive by identifying who is doing the work of holding society together and give them our support.