It is impossible to enable people to thrive and be the best they can be without the basics that allow us to live to our universal values. I can’t quite believe that we haven’t found a way to ensure that everyone has these fundamental needs met in our so-called civilised democracy.
We take these things for granted if we have them, but they are pre-requisites if we want to be able to move beyond mere survival as being all we think or care about.
- A place to call home. Everyone needs some form of shelter where they can be safe, keep their belongings, sleep, cook their food, keep themselves clean and be warm.
- Enough to eat and drink. There is an excess of food in the world, yet people are going hungry and doing without a warm drink.
- Access to healthcare. When the NHS was set up in this country, it transformed people’s lives. Now it is under-funded and over-stretched. Yet access to healthcare enables people to stay healthy and earn their living or care for their family.
- Education and training. It is proven that people will use their talents to improve their lives if we ensure that they have the opportunity to develop in their own way. Again, we have a good education system, but it is biased towards those who are academic, rather than those who have other forms of talent.
- Work that gives people recognition for what they can do and a fair wage. In this day and age, no-one should have to do two jobs with no security of tenure and still not be able to have a reasonable standard of living.
- A benefits and care system that supports those who can’t make their own way. There should always be a strong safety net for those who, for whatever reason, cannot be totally independent.
All this may sound like a utopia when we look at it from where we are now, yet it is both possible and essential, if we are to be a place where people have hope and can thrive. It is proven to be possible because all these aspects of thriving as a society have been put into practice in small pockets at different times and places. We could all learn well from some of our history.
It is also essential because without these fundamentals, we cannot hope for a thriving economy, where people can have the opportunity to make their contribution and have dignity and respect.
We live in the 21st century. It is time we learned how to be truly civilised and compassionate, and give everyone a chance to thrive.
This feels like common sense to me – isn’t it time we started to ask our governments to sort out the basics, so we can all thrive?