3Di’s understanding of social intelligence involves, amongst other things, awareness of others, respect for their concerns and problems, empathy for their hopes and fears, and a willingness to negotiate and compromise on aims and aspirations.
There is an article in the Guardian today by Jackie Ashley which is depressing and apocalyptic in outlook. We are a nation that is growing older with a workforce that is already losing its pensions due to lack of jobs and/or lack of forethought. We have been indoctrinated into the “spend now” mentality because this is the only thing that seems to be keeping our economy going. We are led by consumerism and materialism and now produce goods that people could live without compared with having a manufacturing industry that was, in part, purpose and needs led. Those industries that manufactured essentials are now produced elsewhere.
There is a political contradiction present. Spend now to ensure our economy begins to thrive. Save for your future because there will be no state handouts at the retirement age of 83 for generations to come.
Should I spend or should I save?
What are we to do?
Obviously the government are not prepared to “spend now” to ensure our economy thrives yet expect us to do so on an individual basis, within our means of course, whilst simultaneously expecting some of us to pay for our children’s further education (with obvious arrangements for them to repay through an additional tax burden), our fast track to health care and our preparation for the costs of old age.
There is a short-term crisis, and a longer-term one that is even worse. The short-term problem is that local authority cuts mean 70% of councils intend to increase social care charges, and 40% of them are going to further tighten eligibility. That translates into fear, loneliness and humiliation for old people living in their homes and desperately reliant on this poor-relation service.
The article details the need to act now in order to prevent the horrendous possibility that those of us who are currently still of working age and those who are currently being educated have some sort of security in their twilight years. Many of my generation and older at least have the security of a home that we can sell in order to raise some capital for the future but those a mere ten years younger than me are finding it difficult to get onto the home-ownership mode of saving because the market is vastly over-inflated and well beyond their current means.
It is a sorry and ill-thought out situation.
Somebody somewhere did not think this one through as our industries deteriorated and vanished, as our insular outlook increased and as our social care systems declined to the point of being useless.
How could this have all been tackled in a more intelligent way?
Shouldn’t all of our social policy be mindful of all our intelligences, working together rather than it being driven by one aspect or one particular immediate need?
Intellectually we know there is a problem but what is the driving force for policy development?
Prevention, immediacy, projection? What exactly determines the present and the future? Is anyone considering the effects and the errors of the past?
We are all for living in the now but sometimes we do have to intelligently consider both the past and the future, and planning social policy is one of those times.
When policies are developed we do need to be empathetic and we need to visualise the concerns of the future in order to pre-empt further problems. We need to consider the needs of the many as well as the needs of the individual. We have to envisage how pragmatic social policy can be but we also need to be reflective of the spiritual needs of life too. Providing for the sensory needs of the elderly is quite correct but we also need to be mindful of their purpose and enjoyment of life as it draws to an end. We need to trust our instinct, our gut reaction and then plan using the other intelligences to create a system that is workable, cost-effective and thoughtful.
We need to respond to personal wellbeing needs and develop a collective consciousness for a social policy that is likely to affect each and every one of us in some form or another.
Intelligent planning needs to incorporate all these aspects in order that we reach a viable method of supporting the older generation with their lives. We can no longer adopt policy based on a quick fix without any reference to the social and emotional needs of our people.
And this sort of thoughtful, intelligent planning needs to be used within other areas of social policy too.