Ah, the notions which occasionally drift through a wandering mind during an idle moment. I seem to have had the same notion drifting through mine for a while now. At first glance, it looks kinda grand, almost a little too much; not just a notion but a full on dream of an idea - can we change the world? Hmm, I know. Give it a moment, though, and the mind ceases it's wandering and gets on with some actual wondering, coming to the conclusion that well, yes, just maybe we can. All we need to do is ask a question which matters to each and every one of us, all the people we know, don't know and might never meet, wondering how we can change our lives for the better. Such a question needs to be open, honest and yet, epic too - something like, What Makes a Fair Society? I know, it's a big one. Arguably, the biggest of them all, drawing together most everything we think about each day (and the occasional sleepless night). A question about how we pay the gas bill, feed the kids, be kinder to our neighbours, be more tolerant towards those we might not agree with, find a clean, decent care home for ageing family members and get to the match or the church on time too.
Well, at the Society for Curious Thought, we put this question to writers, ecologists, academics, humanitarians, film makers, artists, the occasional stray politician and others in order to hear what they thought on the matter; what ideas each of them might have to enable people in all societies to change their own lives and communities for the better. Some of our contributors are journalists such as Amol Rajan, editor of the Independent newspaper who writes that: 'among other things, a fair society is one in which virtues are promoted, the weak are protected and all people benefit equally from law, language and land.' Others are artists like Ana Lima-Netto who suggests 'every human being establishes with their neighbour moral and civic values', with 'compassion towards others being the highest value' a sentiment shared by Sola Tayo, Associate fellow at Chatham House who would like to see 'respect for others, a desire to strive for equality and the spirit of kindness.' The poet, Maria Grech Ganado thinks 'education is essential to the formation of a fair society. ' Emeritus Prof Steven Schwartz, Director of the Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences in Sydney wants 'a society in which every citizen has an equal opportunity to compete for society's rewards'. Rita O'Reilly, current affairs journalist with RTÉ prefers to interpret the word 'fair' as meaning 'right-minded', believing that 'a fair society is one which takes steps to ensure those on the margins are offered the practical support they need to independently take their place in the world'. These are only a few of many such voices on our site now.
The next stage in our adventure to change the world will be the Fair Book. We are going to need some help to do this, to create a future as we all imagine it can be.
The Society for Curious Thought and LemonMelon want to publish a book inspired by the early pioneers of the political pamphlet who, in turbulent times, were courageous in espousing values of liberty and freedom of speech in pursuit of a fairer society and a better future. Just a minute, a book, based on a four-hundred year old idea? How quaint, you might say. Well, maybe. Although, then again, maybe not. LemonMelon and The Society of Curious Thought reckon we can be most effective working from the grassroots, recognising the need, as we do, to reach a wider public, those on the margins, the disillusioned (and let's face it, there are many who are turned off politics right now) the disenfranchised and those who don't have access to broadband internet.
We must not hand over our future to someone else to look after. It's essential we ourselves are well informed on the question of what a free, tolerant, democratic society might be and are able to change our own lives and communities for the better. The question of what makes a fair society belongs to us all.