Call me old-fashioned but...You say you wanna revolution? Well you know, then start doing what YOU can
This is precisely our problem: I believe there are progressive forward-thinking individuals out there as there have always been, but because of the structure of modern society, along with the values we promote, people our age are less apt to even bother voting, let alone take part in countercultural movements. In my view, this indifferent mentality stems from a combination of the following factors:
#1: A Societal Focus on Excessive Individualism
Ah, “The (North) American Dream” and the “Be All You Can Be” speech from the army are just a small sampling of the individualistic-oriented messages shoved down our throats on a daily basis. For that matter, if we do receive collective “calls to action,” they are rarely inclusive to all parties (i.e.: they usually have a narrow focus, be it gender, sexual, or ethnic specific-rights that are being fought for).
As a consequence, we get so completely caught up in the struggles of our own lives we often neglect others not realizing, of course, that EVERYTHING we do affects other persons. Ironically, while we claim to be more “connected” than ever before, in actuality, we are further apart.
#2: A Lack of Moral & Ethical Cohesion
In a word, society has gotten “complicated.” As much as the discourse surrounding globalization makes claims that cultural mixing and integration lessen racism, and lead to more “universal” humanistic notions of culture, I think it’s fairly apparent this is not the reality. It would be a downright lie to claim that certain countries, not to mention certain ethnicities WITHIN those countries remain privileged at the expense of others.
We as people and the U.N. as an institutional body, cannot agree on what morals, ethics, values and laws should apply to all persons at all times. As a consequence, when it comes to binding together to fight against a so-called “common enemy,” the decision as to who that is, is a problem, in itself.
While I strongly maintain the best judgements are informed by a multitude of perspectives, it’s very difficult to make any solid decisions when such perspectives are conflicting, rather than complementary. In the end, it’s impossible to please everyone, and because we live in a capitalist society, those with the “big guns” like money, typically win out.
#3: Lack of a Common Enemy
Should we blame our parents? The media? The government? The CEOs of multi-national corporate conglomerates? Society as a whole? Men? Women? The ethnic minorities?
We quite simply can’t agree on towards whom we should be pointing our fingers. Everyone’s got a different theory, but not one is free from partisanship or personal biases.
I personally don’t think we should be attempting to scapegoat anyone as the sole perpetrator. Rather, I’d like to see a world in which EVERYONE does their part but that’s just me.
#4: Where Oh Where Are Our Positive Role Models?
The days of John Lennon, Mother Teresa and Princess Di are sadly long gone. Instead, we’d rather glamourize completely talentless celebs like Paris Hilton and make the indiscretions of pro athletes like Tiger Woods “breaking news.”
The problem with the mass media is it has become nothing more than a vehicle of distraction and entertainment. At one point, those with a message used the media to promote their cause and gain recruits, and if the major news outlets wouldn’t listen, they’d start their own. Now, even our news broadcasts are laughable at this point – they’ve become about nothing more than the 30 second sound-byte.
While there are a few amazing candidates out there like Bono or Angelina who are sincerely trying to make the world a better place, not only are their efforts frequently overshadowed by the latest Tinseltown scandal, but further, when they do receive airtime for their goodwill activities, the media often deems their actions as calculated – nothing more than a means of reputation management.
#5: Too Little Too Late?
While admittedly there is certainly no shortage of global-reaching societal crises at this current point in history, among my list of my top five biggest pet peeves is: complaining coupled with inaction. Too many people feel completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of maladies that as a consequence, they remain stagnant. Imagine if everyone had this view!
While I don’t expect any of you, or myself for that matter, to go out there and crusade against every single dilemma currently plaguing humanity, I don’t believe it is too much to ask everyone to contribute in their own way. There is ALWAYS someone who has it worse off than you.
It’s as easy as picking up after yourself, volunteering at a soup kitchen, sending money or other goods for relief, adopting a rescue animal, or even encouraging a friend or acquaintance to seek counsel for his psychological distress. It doesn’t matter what it is, just do something for someone else.
#6: Priority Setting
Because we live in an industrialized wealthy Western nation, we tend to ignore the problems that are in our very own backyards. For example, did you know that the U.N. has flagged Canada’s homeless problem as one we should seriously be ashamed of?
But let me clarify - it’s not as though the majority of us doesn’t give a shit about our own. Rather the emphasis by media is almost invariably placed on the tortures and sufferings of those from undeveloped nations. Therefore, we remain ignorant regarding our home-grown predicaments.
What it comes down to is this: how do you weigh one human’s life as being more valuable than another’s or one human’s problems as being more severe than another’s? Isn’t everything relative? When faced with highly emotionally-charged questions like this, too many people would rather opt for the easy way out, than face their own biases. The result yet again? Inertia.
The point to this entire rant of mine is as follows: Although we have wars, moral panics, and epidemics just like we did in the past, joint movements in protest of a better world and a more tolerance society no longer occur, and I’d like you to consider why. It’s not just oversaturation. It’s not just distraction. Something has sincerely altered our value system, and it isn’t for the better.
Nowadays, it seems like a feat just to get people to come out to an awareness-raising charity event. ‘Tis a sad state indeed. Let’s change it. Break out those bellbottoms. I wanna revolution.