Concerning Societal Evolution (A Dissertation)
April 3, 2010 6 Comments
In preparing the potential reader of this post: I plan this to not only be a largely-rambling piece of tripe, but to also get KC on board to do one of our infamous “We said” posts. If you can hang on to this topic for the length, as I tend to be wordy when I get riled up over a topic, I think that my points will be horribly disagreed with but will have solid foundation.
-And awaaay we go…
I have been having some pretty interesting conversations with my friends both domestic and abroad about various events that have been occurring globally, such as of course the economic issues in both Europe and the States, the increase and flaring up of political stances and opinions, and the general view that the world as we know it is in a complete upheaval, and have come to a few conclusions that pretty much overview all of these events. It doesn’t package everything into one digestible package, but sheds light not only on the foundation for the current group of issues but, to me personally, a little bit of enlightenment on the similarities between an individual and a society.
In short… the world is not about to implode and the sky is not falling. There is no Mad Max-esque future in store for us; there will be no massive upheaval of political and social views leading to another war to end all wars. I hate to say it, but all of the post-holocaust scenarios that have been in movies and books (albeit pretty damn cool) are not going to happen… but something else is. Something that I think, if we can make it through these chaotic times, will lead us into a direction that will change the face of society as we know it.
First, a little ground work.
We, as individuals, are just inherently really really fucking lazy, and above anything require either an internal or external stimulus to just get us off of our asses. For example: hunger causes us to eat in order to alleviate the pain that our body communicates to us. Greed (my personal favorite) requires us to participate in a motley of things in order to appease our need for stuff, et cetera. If this stimulus is not in place then we would turn into gelatinous blobs of apathy and atrophy, a level of being that I have seen highlighted in both children’s movies (the spaceship people from Wall-E) as well as more adult-oriented material (Idiocracy).
We, as individuals, NEED TO BE STIMULATED SO THAT WE FORCE OURSELVES TO GROW TO ADDRESS THE STIMULUS. I know I wouldn’t get off my ass if I didn’t have to, and I SURE as hell would not be working out here if there wasn’t some sort of internal or external stimulus to put me out here. I mean come on, I work in Nigeria. Who in their right MIND would come out here unless there was some either internal stimulation (I just REALLY like money) or external stimulation (I really like the nice crap that money has bought me) as a driving force?
Now time for me to wrap this into a different package.
What if society, us as a whole, had the same requirements? I mean look at the social innovation that has been created by this exact same line of thought. The United States was originally settled when one society had a clash with another over differing belief systems, causing one society to place themselves in an extremely challenging environment just so that said beliefs would not be suppressed. The removal of religion as the driving force in governmental decisions was based off of seeing a previous governmental model in work (on the group being discussed, actually) that had said controls in place and identifying it as a model that oppresses instead of governs and ensuring, through the creation of an almost brand new governmental system, removed religion as the primary power and put it in the hands of the people. Oppression was the stimulus which drove this formation of ideas and eventual innovation in the social governing process, and would not have existed without. Basically the point I am trying to make is that societies, much like people, NEED some sort of stimulus, and %99.999 percent of the time said stimulus is trying and pretty much negative. It needs this in order for it to evolve… or it just sits on its haunches and looses all forward momentum. It could devolve, or it could just die.
There are problems at both levels, the individual as well as the social, if that stimulus is not there.
If an individual had access to food, shelter and warmth without having to exert any effort whatsoever to obtain said items, what would happen? Without stimulus of any kind, without that inherent thing that creates a need within all of us, what would atrophy first?
-So using my previous comparison and applying it to society: if no external stimulus or internal stimulus is present to keep things applicable, practical and effective, what tends to happen? From my interpretation of current events, the exact same thing. Without that stimulation you end up with political and social systems that, in my mind, become bloated, lack applicability, and in an even more horrible sense, don’t reflect the needs or the will of the people that participate. This leads me to use a now famous group, the Tea Partiers, as a tool to identify the response that society, albeit the American one, has created in response that lack of stimulus and increase in atrophy. We as Americans have lived a fairly blessed life since our inception some 275+ years ago, experiencing a previously-unheard of strength due to us being socially at the top of the heap, as we created something that was an amalgamation of ideas from societies that pre-dated our own; we created a hybrid that learned from the mistakes of the past and it just WORKS. (On a side note: the problem with any proposed social perfection is that, as in all things, the environment that it was originally founded on has evolved.) We have also had that necessary stimulus in the form of some pretty spectacular wars to continue enforcing our social beliefs and proving that they still work.
Therein lies what I perceive as the problem: we as a unified whole just haven’t had that for some time now, and due to that lack of challenge (and I hate to say this, but Iraq and Afghanistan do not count as they have not shaken the root of our entire society) the supposed heads that are attempting to drive this beast have given up any attempt to identify themselves with those that are being driven, thus providing a great gap, a huge wound in our unity. Case in point; who in their right mind would actually think that a supposed “universal” health care process would be welcomed with open arms by a society that is currently suffering from, depending on who you talk to, anywhere from 12% to 21% total unemployment? Why would you give two shits that you can go get that physical that you have always wanted when you can’t even put food on your goddamned plate?
We have survived as a society because we were either stimulated externally by this wonderful new country that we had to conquer, to tame, or by having that struggle be internal, with everything from crafting laws that where a good idea at the time (Prohibition) and then realizing that we fucked the dog and changing it, or fighting internally, brother on brother, over states rights. We have fought wars to defend our beliefs and have even assisted our brothers in other parts of the world to help them defend their own, but we did it as a WHOLE. The fact that America has had to resort to the Tea Party movement to highlight the great divide between our governing body and you and me is a sign that if we can’t get that identity back, that social identity, then the bad times have only begun, and I have a feeling that this great experiment will shake itself apart.
I do see a light at the end of the tunnel though.
If we CAN get it back, if the divide can be spanned, and if the current discord is the key to that happening… well people, we might just become the baddest motherfuckers that humanity has ever seen to date.
Time will tell.
KC’s Outsider-Looking-In Point of View
I’ve struggled with writing this blog posting. Old Iron set parameters that made it very difficult for me to be inspired to put pen to paper… within the limitations set. But since I am a firm believer in “Say What You Want but Watch What You Say” … it was time to see if I could do it myself with a challenging subject, without using words that would ruffle the majority feathers. Well, here’s the thing. Chances are, I will piss some of you off. Without a doubt, I will. But I hope that this will generate conversation and rational discussion – not the accusatory “It’s the others side fault… You are wrong… We are right…” that is blogging these days. Reading the same old accusations really boils down to one thing: fear of change. And change is NECESSARY… honestly, it’s inevitable. The current climate in the US is that doesn’t matter how amazing things USED TO BE… change is inevitable because it is broken. And you fix what’s broken. And the only way to do that and do it successfully is by uniting, not dividing.
It truly is an unsettling time to be an American in a very noxious political climate. Fear fuels hatred which appears to be the undertones that is permeating media and blogs everywhere – translating into the homes of Americans. It doesn’t even matter what side of the political spectrum you find yourself on. It’s about survival. I get it. I truly do. But I don’t see anyone really working at the solution. I see the blame game… fueling the flames of fear and cementing the undertones of hatred… even furthering the divisiveness emotions, running rampant, giving it power.
What will it take to unite a country? I would have thought that an act as violent and devastating as 9/11 would have. An attack on the institution that the United States of America set forth to the world was attacked. Not just a country. Democracy was attacked – on US soil. And yes – the world united and went to war. But only for a moment. And the cracks that were rumbling under the surface only caused further division … to the point where, as an outsider looking in, it appears as though: they won. And continue to win. Because the US is no longer about the American people. It’s about who’s right and who’s wrong. It is truly divided. Stalling social evolution, progressive thought in a modern world. Fear does that, it immobalize.
What will it take? I honestly don’t know, because I am not American. I am a very proud Canadian and love my country. The truth is, what happens in the US has a ripple effect onto the world. Because YOU, as a country, made sure that it would be that way. And kudos to y’all – it worked. Until now that is. To say it’s becoming less and less relevant on the world scene is … closer to the truth than perhaps we want to admit. It’s almost comical now. I mean, seriously – watching you – makes me proud of our crazy Canuck politics… the same ones that Americans LOVE to criticize. But while we may be ‘crazy’… we are Canadians first. Politics are secondary. And our love for our country unites us. And our economy is stabilizing, progressing forward. That isn’t the image Americans are currently portraying to the world.
Blame who you want. The Conservative/Republicans masses blame the Liberal/Democratic parties and vice versa. The end of the day, it’s the people. You. The readers. The American people. The same people whose forefathers fought for what they believed in and changed the world. Sadly, the generations that followed… didn’t follow thru, sitting on their laurels, comfortable in their power to stay relevant, forever. To the point of complacency and arrogance. Politicians are a product of their environment, supposedly giving the masses what they want. And viola, you now have in power, exactly what the people wanted. Like it or not, it is the people who voted. It is the people who make up the country and is also, dividing it.
The terrorist won at dividing the formidable beast.
Right now, what is scarier – terrorism or the current climate that is the US?
Can the people turn back the hands of time, move united in a progressive manner, setting aside fears and an antiquated belief system – and regain its former glory? Man, do I ever wish I could say I believe in your power, like I once did. But my faith is waning with each blog I read or with each media coverage I see about the US political climate. How can anyone believe when y’all don’t believe?
It’s a shame that words spoken like the following statement are only available in the form of a Hollywood TV show (Brothers & Sisters character, Kitty McAllister – Conservative politician running for State Senate office)… because it would be exactly what is needed in the US right now… someone who honestly believes that “ If I ever get to the point where my ideology are so rigid that I cannot see another point of view or if my loyalties lies with my party instead of with my country… then I want the voters to send me home.”
Words aren’t enough anymore. Action is required. It appears another revolution is brewing. And is necessary. Where it will lead, only the gods know. But for as long as the country is on the path of the ‘great divide’ and not on unity… society won’t evolve and WILL continue to remain stagnant with questionable practices and politician representing either side. It’s a scary place to be living in, the US… and I think I’ll stay this side of the border for a long time still.