No, I’m not browsing through the news on the street, all be it an important but smaller part of my particular Big Issue. Many of my babbles thus far, have shown a tendency toward focusing upon policing. After 30+ years of experiencing all the issues impacting upon, what in my opinion is such an important aspect of our society, is this really so surprising?
The recent riots in England, and all the subsequent heated debate, have served to bring this factor to the fore in other people’s minds too. That said, policing is only one part of the framework we use to address our social ills, in our attempts to keep a lid on the bigger issues we face. There is so much more to examine in the so-called moral vacuum, an issue now reaching all levels of society.
Thanks to that almost continuous (but often unsuccessful) quest for answers to these social ills, which usually takes place at The Fisherman’s Arms, I’ve decided to try to broaden my horizons somewhat. This partial change of direction, mainly spurred on by ‘Rab’ (aka The Portree Kid) my regular social sparing partner and Teuchter that cam frae Skye, is aimed at provoking some response from a wider database of social observers.
This may however prove to be unsuccessful, let me explain… Throughout my many years of social observation I have noticed a worrying trait in that; people’s varied topics of conversation (in general), tend towards the more mundane subject matter of life today. Not only are these conversations often inane but also, tend towards insular and mostly unimportant subjects, conversation that is simply for conversation sake.
I suppose that has to be (partly) expected after all, the human being is a social animal and, conversation is an important component part of that social interaction. To many, the fact they actually have nothing more intellectual to talk about, or base any educated opinion upon, is immaterial. This trait appears non more prevalent than within the younger generations and I’m sorry to say, young females.
Before I get berated for ‘demonizing the young’ or maybe even overtly sexist, I’m aware these comments are generalistic however; many of our social issues stem from problems of a somewhat simple and general nature.
The word ‘demon’ has an inevitability about it, implying forces beyond anyone’s control either to prevent or to change. Do we really mean there are groups of children who have achieved such a state of wickedness that they should be blamed and punished rather than loved and cherished? (‘Identifying the demons’ – Christine Whatford CBE – Past president of the Society of Education Officers)
In Whatford’s opinion our “social and economic disadvantage, and a lack of hope and opportunity ever to escape from it” is the major reason for our creation of our ‘apparent’ underclass. But it’s not the ‘children’ I refer to per se, more their parentage . A parentage that has mostly insular and materialistic viewpoints on so many issues; thoughts which have travelled increasingly in that direction as generations have passed us by. Our intrinsically insular views come directly from a satisfaction of residing in a microcosm of self-important here and now values and vision. Or, as a recent respondent to a BBC News article on the recent riots debate put it;
BBC News: Riots ‘result of me-first society’ says Bishop – Comment – The level of greed in British society has reached endemic proportions. It seems that today a person’s worth is only measured by the kind of car they drive, the brand of clothes they wear and the type of gadgets they carry around. We have become a country that depends on greed and consumption to survive. I don’t think it helps when the underclass see the rich elite avoiding taxes at every turn! (Comment – MasterOfPuppets)
But, as many have found previously, trying to pin all our social ills on one particular causation factor is impossible. That said, taking a more general view sometimes helps in trying to find issues indicative of the problems. However, one must be guarded not to tar with the same brush when forming conclusions or the application of repair methods. It does however astound me that, given our propensity for hindsight answers and observations, we appear to take little cognisance of our history. But perhaps things aren’t as bad as we actually perceive them to be?
Perceptions of the general public tend to lag behind reality, so even when the statistics show a real improvement in performance of those groups, that on its own will not alter the person in the street’s view of them, so will not per se, end their demonization. (Christine Whatford CBE)
My personal take upon that root causation tends towards our inherent love of cash; an issue compounded by the cononomics of current politics, as opposed to the ‘economics’ mentioned by Whatford. We hear almost daily that our rich are getting richer, whilst the poor get poorer, especially (but not exclusively) within the inherent wealth condensation of our mostly capitalistic western world. It has been said “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (actually a quote from the First Epistle of Paul to Timothy). The choice of quote shouldn’t be taken in a religious context, far better to examine it with a purely historical viewpoint.
Another throw-back from religion, perhaps also worthy of our consideration when looking for social answers, would be the Ten Commandments. Although, given how many human conflicts were (supposedly) born out of religious argument, perhaps this isn’t such a sensible route to take either? As a person who holds fairly simplistic (and non religious) views on many things, I can usually take words at face value, especially when they make moral common sense e.g. thou shalt not steal etc. However, and even more so as our society has progressed, we have a tendency to question or challenge anything and everything. Even more so when it doesn’t particularly fit within our individualistic tendencies.
Whatford suggests that education is a fundamental part of redressing the balance in our somewhat disenfranchised and dysfunctional society. I would have to agree but only partly… Firstly and in real terms, can we honestly say our society is ‘disenfranchised’ in true terms? Many of those, who say they have no power to influence decision-making process in governments, simply choose not to use their vote. Whether or not our vote actually has the power to drive ‘real’ change is a wholly different and arguable matter.
Secondly, if the root of ‘demonization’ is social unrest caused by poverty, “closing the social gap through education” is only part of the overall answer to the problem. Recently, in Our degrees of Chicken or Egg, I argued that perhaps our education system is a contributory factor in our great social and business failings. If as I believe it is, how can we then expect ‘education’ (in isolation) it to provide the answers we are actually looking for?
Until we can actually distance ourselves from the mostly materialistic views we attach to most things, I feel it will be a very long time until we achieve the results we keep searching for, if ever? Maybe we are just being far too simplistic and craving idealistic Nirvana? One thing I do know is; the mostly rhetorical use of the phrase “we’re all in this together” is actually true… Unfortunately, too many of our equals are more equal than we happen to be most of the time! I’m sure the Teuchter and I will keep searching for the answers but until then…