Trust Shared Responsibilities

 

Three months ago thousands responded to a post I wrote: “I Don’t Want to Go Back to How it Was Before Covid19”.  There were hundreds of thoughts posted about what should be changed or better. For many, a primary concern of a pre-COVID life boiled down to a growing lack of social trust.

 

To develop civic trust and act upon a common concern, perhaps it is time to focus on what is meant by shared responsibilities. The citizens of Djenné in Mali offer an interesting example for consideration with regards the benefits to social cohesion and trust-building. Building and maintaining things together, producing something tangible, present and representative of that act. Working together, the citizens of the city Djenne built a massive structure from mud and earth as early as 1200. Over the hundreds of years, this structure has evolved to become an immense Mosque. 

 

Being made of mud, it is susceptible to erosion, However, the building’s inherent weakness is the community's strength. Today the citizens, are responsible for maintaining this huge mud-built structure – the largest in the world.

 

During the annual festival of the Crepissage de la GrandMosquée, the entire city contributes to the re-plastering of the mosque’s exterior by kneading into it a mud plaster made from a mixture of butter and fine clay from the alluvial soil of the nearby Niger and the men of the community usually take up the task of mixing the construction material. As in the past, musicians entertain them during their labours, while women provide water for the mixture. Elders also contribute through their presence on-site, by sitting on terrace walls and giving advice. Mixing work and play, young boys, sing, run, and dash everywhere….(link) The building’s condition is a reflection of the civic engagement, pride, cooperation, mutual trust that maintains it by way of tradition, practice, knowledge transfer and effort.

 

Trust is a slippery concept and something to strive for, maintain and cherish.

 

Three months ago thousands responded to a post I wrote “I Don’t Want to Go Back to How it Was Before Covid19”.  There were hundreds of thoughts posted about what should be changed or better. For many, a primary concern of a pre-COVID life boiled down to a growing lack of social trust.

 

Trust, in all its forms, seems to be as endangered as the countless fragile species that humanity is currently in the process of eradicating, if not more so….

 

The erosion of trust which appears to have gained momentum over the years before COVID looks firmly set to continual eroding afterwards. Rotten politicians, religious leaders, big-business leaders, tradesmen, community leaders, council officials, neighbours, banks, scientists, the media, historians, artists, royalty, entertainers and family members ( the list goes on) have all been found guilty of weakening an essential ethical element that binds society. Trust has suffered and a more insidious element is taking its place.    

As trust has withdrawn, mistrust has moved in to suffuse so many aspects of our daily lives - Consequently, society seems more preoccupied with acts of destruction and doubt. The media, based on a premise of ‘supply and demand’, echoes societies propensity to focus on acts and narratives of unrest, damage and violence, whether it be an aggressive stance towards the unfamiliar or towards those we struggle to understand.

 

It is seen in the destruction of once honoured statues, acts of arson levelled at community buildings that represent authority, clashes with state-run institutions like the police, scapegoating during a pandemic, riots and looting, the appalling acts of mindless violence perpetrated against animals and the natural environment. It manifests in civil war, or the hidden dangers of complacency and acts of passive by-standing, we are immersed in destructive behaviour.

 

To maintain or develop vital trust in neighbourhoods, towns and cities, people could explore the sharing of responsibilities.

 

An example at the macro scale, the citizens of Djenne, are responsible for maintaining the largest mud-built structure in the world. During the annual festival of the Crepissage de la Grand Mosquée, the entire city contributes to the re-plastering of the mosque’s exterior by kneading into it a mud plaster made from a mixture of butter and fine clay from the alluvial soil of the nearby Niger and the men of the community usually take up the task of mixing the construction material. As in the past, musicians entertain them during their labours, while women provide water for the mixture. Elders also contribute through their presence on-site, by sitting on terrace walls and giving advice. Mixing work and play, young boys, sing, run, and dash everywhere….(link)

 

Edited by: Paul Gilling 

 

 

 

 

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