Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Need for Social Feces Reassembly

Back in 1897, the French sociologist Émile Durkheim coined the term anomie to refer to normlessness.  This would be a condition in which a person is separated from the general norms that link the individual to his community.  This anomie is supposed to underlie such deviance as suicide, recreational drug use, the general Not Give a Damn attitude that some people have, and Looking Out for Number One.

The sordid, sick, and sorry story of the rape in Steubenville, Ohio last year with the lack of intervention to the young girl's plight and apparent tolerance of this sort of behavior showed this clearly.  Did not anyone present feel any need to intervene, or even indicate that it was wrong in any way?  How can anyone feel a desire to live in a community that would allow this?

In short, there seems to be a handicap or a glitch in the ordinary processes that are required for social living: a sense of  communality, trust, and the expectation of honesty and truthfulness in others.  Basically, the Res Publica (the old Roman expression for Public Thing) is out of kilter.  And, in the context of American society, circa 2014, other things are out of kilter too.  I think that this is something that both the left and the right can agree on.

Part of the problem is that we're a mass society that is heterogeneous: we have no single political party that everyone believes in (like the old PRI in Mexico or the Communist party in an old Warsaw Pact country, no state religion, no governing rules that affect crafts or guilds, not that any of those worked very well.  And we have the enduring problems of race and sectionalism that still haunt us.  We're historically and presently not done well with our pluralism; we need to suck it up, accept that people are different and states are different, and learn to work together as best as we can.

And part of this is due to our mutual isolation: there a few bridges being built among people.  Some churches have even developed parallel communities to minimize their flocks from coming into contact with outsiders, and thus contaminated.  No, not just backwoodsy sects or cults: big megachurches.  This needs to stop.

And there are the commentators who increase the problem: demonizing the opposition, ridiculing people, engaging in ad hominem attacks, and so forth.  A to-be-wished for solution is for there be to bilateral dialing down of the rhetoric.  Or, if you can't, then shut up!  I don't mean just Rush, too; though he is symptomatic of the problem. Here is another dumbass opinion, this one from the left.

Unfortunately, too much of what passes for humor nowadays has a nastiness or hostility to it.  Humanistic Psychologist Abraham Maslow characterized self-actualized persons as having a non-hostile sense  of humor.  Humorwise, a lot of what we're collectively doing is wrong. 

And we pay for it with loss of community, cynicism, and pessimism.

And much of celebrity "news" involves the reporting of mishaps or errors.  When magazines have "Best Dressed" and "Worst Dressed" issues, it is the fashion faux pases that get the attention.* 

But, regarding opinions, you have a right to yours, as everyone else does.  But you also have a responsibility to think yours through, having gathered the facts, rather than supinely following someone else.  Otherwise, it's true: opinions are like anuses, everyone has one.  Alternatively, you can baaa! like the other lambs waiting to be shorn!

Here's a test:  You are directly aware because of the bumper sticker on your neighbor's car that your politics do not coincide.  Also, you happen to see that someone or something is attempting to do harm or did harm to her or him.  (e.g. -- a burglar is trying to pry open his back door, some goon is beating on your neighbor, some ruffians are trying to molest her, some person is hungry or rendered without shelter due to a tornado.)  Do you help? 

If your answer was affected by your neighbor's bumper sticker, then you have your values all screwed up!!!!  You have no claim to compassion or being a Christian or any other moral claim.  Yeah, verily, you sucketh!

All values and all dimensions of valuing are not equal.  Some things are more important than others.  If there's a conflict between your principles and the safety or survival of another, I hope you're principled  enoughto throw your principles aside!

Our Res Publica is still in danger; but the danger is, to a great degree, of our own making.  We need to pull it out.  Reassemble our feces**, and come together.

*Gratuitous opinion:  I liked Bjork's swan dress!

**Or, get our **** together.

I wrote this last year; but thought it was too controversial and a downer to post.


Duckbutt said...

The whole Steubenville affair and the pretty pass to which society seems to be going is a downer.

TexWisGirl said...

we are so busy dividing ourselves, 'defining' ourselves into labels and differences. unity is just not apparent in most of today's society.

when i read a news article and stray below it to the comments left by others, i am so often taken aback by the hatefulness people fire off at will. we're just stirring the pot more and more.

i hope i can give someone kindness, even just for today.

Mike said...

The centrists are in hiding.

Bilbo said...

This was a great post, very thoughtful and on-target. And I'm adding "social feces reassembly" to my list of gotta-use phrases.

Grand Crapaud said...

Somewhere. somehow, we lost our shit.