Andrew Leigh: Reconnecting
I often lament that doing good is not done well enough, and talk about the need to pay more attention to the why, the how, and the impact of doing good. I’m a strong proponent of not engaging in the act of doing good unless you have a deep knowledge and understanding of the cause you are wanting to support, and the charity you want to support it through. But behind all this doing good is a deeper problem, one that challenges our willingness to do good in a meaningful, connected way. It’s the question of civic engagement. My guest today is Andrew Leigh MP, co-author of the book Reconnected, and Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities within the Australian Labour Party. In Reconnected, Andrew tells us of the overall decline in civic engagement across all domains including involvement in community associations, membership of political parties, union membership and participation in organised religion. We have less close friends, we give less, we volunteer less, and we vote less. Reconnected calls for more engagement in helping, giving and volunteering as ways to increase social cohesion and resilience to improve outcomes for all Australians. As I was reading Andrew’s book, it occurred to me that while both Andrew and I are calling for more involvement in doing good, we are doing so with a slightly different lens. When Andrew speaks of the need for more engagement in doing good, I speak of the need for caution, and for ensuring that you don’t cause further harm. When Andrew speaks of the need for systems to be in place to transform spontaneous altruism into a lasting volunteering ethos, I talk about the need to examine spontaneous altruism itself. Andrew is reading Truman, by David McCullough Andrew is listening to the Freakonomics Podcast, the Radiolab podcasts, and The Jolly Swagman Podcast by Joseph Noel Walker.