Social Isolation Day 6: Social Capital

Another successful day in isolation. Milo, despite the appearance, is actually quite happy. He’s practicing his touch typing….in front of the heat pump, and apparently he didn’t feel the need for clothes.

This pandemic sets in stark contrast the major cultural differences between Kiwis and Americans.  Jeremiah and I have joked that Kiwis are basically socialists, with the largely tax-payer funded medical system, more paid holiday time for all classes of workers, a much simpler tax system, and a more egalitarian society, to name just a few of the more tangible features.  And we have been impressed at how compliant the large majority of our neighbors are with the current stay-at-home rule.

A writer for The Herald, a NZ news source, commented “New Zealand does have a good shot at this [stemming the pandemic] because there is trust in government – unlike in America – and we’re a small, relatively cohesive society, with good social capital that the Government can make use of.”

Trust in Government?!  Right, THAT’s different than in America for sure.

Speaking of trusting the government, a friend living in Canada sent this today.  Jacinda Arden is the current prime minister of NZ, from the Labor party, and even the past prime minister (National party) is quoted speaking supportively of her leadership.  

But what’s this social capital?  

Wikipedia says “Social capital is the effective functioning of social groups through interpersonal relationships, a shared sense of identity, a shared understanding, shared norms, shared values, trust, cooperation, and reciprocity.”

It all sounds very nice, doesn’t it?  A shared sense of identity, shared values….yes, there’s definitely more of that in NZ than in the US. Not perfect by any means, not a utopia or anything close to it, still littered with ugly bits of human nature, but I’m often surprised at how much more shared values and trust there is than what I’d expect, from growing up in America.

We watched “Country Calendar” yesterday, a NZ institution that showcases rural farms weekly, and has since 1966.  All the commercial breaks had a government ad encouraging people to unite against Covid19 by staying at home to, and by doing so protecting the essential services workers that have to be out and about.  And I reckon most people are taking that to heart, at least at this stage.  

1 thought on “Social Isolation Day 6: Social Capital

  1. Although we don’t typically have a lot of unity is the US, I believe people are finally getting the picture and we are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel………very slowly. All of our leadership is doing an amazing job getting every organized and doing their best to advise and keep everyone safe. Praying for all of us! Miss you!

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