Toxic Society

A common feeling I keep taking away from class is that society is very toxic to itself. Learning about Judith Shklar and her view of citizenship as standing through the right of being able to vote and a person must earn a wage. Looking at Alexis de Tocqueville and understanding that he thought exclusion was tyranny of the soul and tyranny of the majority but it was necessary. Reading Ralph Emerson with him talking about how you must detach yourself from society to reach a kind of nirvana or enlightenment. Disguising Fredrick Douglas and how he was a slave who was freed who would give speeches about Independence Day saying “It is a white mans holiday. I understand what you are celebrating but I myself have nothing to celebrate”. 

There is no reason as to why everyone should try and act like other people. You are going to be in your own skin for a while, you might as well get comfortable in it. But history has shown us that if you do not like act like everyone else and conform than you will be excluded, shunned. In my class we have had discussions about ways that things could be different, better. And I don’t think people just have open and honest discussions any more because people are so afraid to voice their opinion. 

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It is a bite sad to think about how detrimental society is to itself. We cannot function as a whole and we cannot function apart. We have talked about whether society is mainly collective or mainly individualistic, and I have come to the conclusion that society, as a whole, is almost entirely individualistic. I know some people might not agree with me, but even when someone is participating as a group for a certain cause they are still individually putting their needs or interests above someone else’s. To put it plainly, “we want everyone to know about the anonymous charity work we are doing”. It is because of this unhealthy society that we have such things as justifiable rape and delirious groups, such as the Westboro Baptist Church, going around protesting soldiers funerals.

I do not see the harm in always going against the grain, always being exactly who you are. I know that is overused and cliché. But telling little girls that they don’t have to like princesses and they can find G.I. Joe to be cool isn’t something spoken about.

I believe that if you be yourself, and that means you don’t have any friends. Good for you. People shouldn’t pretend to be nice or sweet to get by in life or to make friends. I’m not saying that you should act like Regina George from Mean Girls but don’t beat around the bush when saying something; most people value bluntness. 

For as long as humans are around we are going to be debating moral rights and legal rights, but if you think about it if a word has the word ‘rights’ at the end of it, it shouldn’t even be debated. I realize that there are many flaws within my argument, but isn’t that what our society is all about? 

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7 Responses to Toxic Society

  1. roblewis92 says:

    “For as long as humans are around we are going to be debating moral rights and legal rights, but if you think about it if a word has the word ‘rights’ at the end of it, it shouldn’t even be debated.”

    What do you mean by this? If I say I have a moral right to X and someone else says that I do not have a moral right to X, are you saying that is shouldn’t be debated? Should those with the might be the ones who make right?

    • To be fair to you, i appreciate the statement you made at the beginning but you lost me in your closing argument. What exactly should our society be about? An endless debate about who has what rights and to what extent?

      Also, having no friends is hardly living at all. But i get your point express yourself regardless of what people think of you. To that end I think I have in our POS 394 class been quite outspoken about what I believe. This may not always be the best approach though. As you may have noticed, I have gotten into some very confrontation arguments before that were not entirely necessary to the discussion. Sometimes it is more of a talent to know when to stop talking than to keep on expressing yourself. 🙂

      • ryrooney says:

        You being outspoken in our POS class always makes for an interesting class. I mean that in a good way! You are right when you say knowing when to stop talking is more of a talent than to keep on expressing yourself because there are moments in everyone’s life where we want to yell shut up. But I think when people reach the point to where they just want to hear themselves talk, they are no longer expressing themselves. That is the point/ line that I am trying to draw. Expressing yourself is trying to make a point but when you are just spewing thoughts out ‘because you can’ than you have reached the point when you are no longer expressing yourself.

        I think our society should follow some of the views that Eastern countries follow. Switzerland, for example. I don’t think our society should have to debate anything. it is going to sound ridiculous but I think we should all just co- exist with each other. “You don’t like my beliefs or my views on gun control, that’s fine!”, kind of mentality. We shouldn’t always be sticking our noses into other people’s business, that is what gets us into trouble. Thats is what gets society into trouble.

      • roblewis92 says:

        They debate everything in Switzerland because the individual cantons are run as mini direct democracies.

        How would society work if we didn’t argue over rights and privileges. Some people say, “I have the right to go to college” but they can’t afford college. These same people say that because they have a right to go to college that someone else needs to pay for them to go. The person whom they want to pay is probably going to say, “I have a right to keep my money”. So, without argument, how are we to resolve this?

  2. yesdelrinc says:

    “It is a bite sad to think about how detrimental society is to itself. We cannot function as a whole and we cannot function apart. We have talked about whether society is mainly collective or mainly individualistic, and I have come to the conclusion that society, as a whole, is almost entirely individualistic.”

    I agree that US society operates in an individualistic manner. However, what one must underscore when making such a claim is that the prized rugged individualist mentality is not a natural phenomenon, but is a product of our social construction. In a nation where efficiency, capitalism, competition, production, and accuracy reign, people grow into thinking that the same standards for the “free market” (which isn’t so free) apply to their personal and social lives. Thus, we lead our relationships with our romantic and platonic counterparts under this same individualistic attitude. Ultimately, this state of mind does not allow us to harbor deep human connections with others and is the reason why “we cannot function as a whole.” If the US culture of consumerism did not exist, we would not have a system that would promote hyper-individualism and “dog-eat-dog” strategies.

    We should take a look at the culture and historical aspects that have created the US into an individualistic domain. Only then will we be able to understand which social constructions are acting as barriers with out being with others.

    • ryrooney says:

      I completely agree that individualism is a product of socialization. From the moment we are able to make choices we are usually told to do what is best for you personally. But yet people are so enamored when someone does something that can better themselves, when maybe in the process it hurts someone else. I do not see how consumerism plays a role in individualism. Could you explain that a bit to me?

  3. dalienthus says:

    I think the problem is much more basic than just blaming society for individual problems. Instead I believe the fault lies in the individual. On a base level every person just wants to be accepted. This gets translated to any point in your life. People perceive ‘needing’ acceptance from parents, siblings, spouses, colleagues, superiors, and role models. This also complies when we look at people living their lives in ways that would cause a lack of support and acceptance, for example tyrants and serial killers. We must assume that at a pinnacle point in their lives they experienced a lack of acceptance from someone important too them. Keeping this in mind, a lack of acceptance from someone important to you can be traced to any of the seven deadly sins. With acceptance we do not want to let them down so we choose to continue to live lives of high moral value. To wrap this up the only way to have a healthy society is to not have a society. Just like how the only way to eliminate the individual’s need for acceptance is to permanently isolate them from all others.

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