A collective approach to global salvation is a pipe-dream!
By allocating responsibility to a collective ‘we’, individuals excuse themselves from direct action. It’s the concept that we’re all too insignificant on our own to make any difference. Instead they get to wring their hands from the side-lines, their lack of meaningful contribution justified by the enormity of the task at hand.
I’ve read so many articles and opinion-pieces lately, where the authors lament the current state of society and lay the blame firmly at the feet of the ruling classes. And what’s their conclusion? Usually nothing; most often it’s just a bland exercise in finger-pointing at inequality, class division, or politicians.
Society has always been a bit shit. Newsflash folks, utopia isn’t coming to a planet near you in the near future. It’ll never happen. That, of course, shouldn’t stop us from trying to be better, or aspiring to make a difference. It’s all about perspective.
Many of those who moan about the state of the world do so in the name of the next generation: those divisively classified as ‘millennials’. But wait a minute, isn’t that what we’re meant to do; take an apologetic stance and whinge about how our generation has ravaged the planet? When did apology become the default position, and when did the rest of human evolution deserve a pass?
I didn’t destroy the planet, I just live here!
Sexual abuse is the other hot potato right now. Again (while I’m on a roll), I’m totally pissed-off with this collective gasp of amazement at how rife it is within our society and I’d really love to call society out on its bullshit.
We’ve known all along that people in power use their position for personal gain. Money and sex is the currency in this winner-takes-all society that lionises alpha behaviour, hyper-sexualised (by all genders) imagery, and ostentatious displays of wealth.
We’ve all seen managers whose hands linger where they shouldn’t; who pass inappropriate comments with impunity, and who excuse bulling within the workplace because, well, they set the standards round here. I’ve witnessed managers, both male and female, try to leverage their position for sexual advantage.
I’m proud to say I took action; can you do the same?
Yes, I sometimes suffered negative consequences as a result; usually because the ‘system’ wasn’t geared towards addressing, let alone acknowledging this issue. But I got to educate my son in ethics and respect from an authentic position, and not just from theory.
I’m often accused of being cynical. I’d argue that I’m not afraid to open my eyes and see humanity for what it is; weaknesses and strengths alike. It’s not like you can stop the ride and get off; we’re in it for the long haul, so why not face up to our individual responsibilities and do something positive today?
I do believe we’re collectively capable of more. However, we can’t afford to wait for everyone else to make the first move. We all have to stand up and be counted as individuals: as scary as that may be, as vulnerable as we might feel, whatever the cost; what other choice do we have?
I suggest that until we shed this herd-mentality, then nothing much is going to change. Think I’m being harsh? Just try to remember that thought the next time you have a choice to do the right thing, and justify not doing so because you’re ‘only doing what everyone else does’.
The key to changing the world is individual responsibility. It won’t be an overnight fix, but momentum has a wonderful habit of gathering speed; whether we see the results within our lifetime, or it takes a generation or more. We must have not only the aspiration for something better, but the balls to hold ourselves and others to a higher standard. Anything less, and in my eyes, we don’t deserve to stand in judgement.
A change in attitude is infectious. How we speak in front of our children sets the tone for their level of understanding. Our words are powerful enough to shape their world, and only wider experience in later life can knock down the walls we build on their behalf.
Everyone must be held accountable for their own behaviour. This isn’t the same as the public’s obsession with blame culture. This is simply about personal choices and demanding reasonable standards.
No-one should get a free pass or special dispensation because of position or fame. I’m disgusted at how many victims it’s taken in pretty much every one of the recent sex-cases before they’ve been given any credibility. In every single example, the perpetrators have been given licence to behave in the way they have by people like you and me not listening to the victims early enough.
Serial abusers are typically surrounded by ‘enablers’. People who know or suspect what’s going on and choose to turn a blind eye. It’s no excuse to say you’re not in a position to do anything, because doing nothing is a definite choice, and doing nothing means that there will be another victim.
Before you unleash righteous indignation, allow me to frame it another way. When was the last time you called someone out on their inappropriate comments, poor behaviour, or bad attitude? I’m not suggesting that you go around red-carding everyone; just be mindful of what society you want to pass on to the next generation, and how much scope for influence we all have each and every day. Us not making a stand and challenging, is tantamount to permission for someone with an abusive mindset.
Worse still, many among us gladly accept the status quo, and wait patiently for their opportunity for power; as the saying goes – ‘To the winner goes the spoils.’ Bullying and abuse exists at every level of society, often by people who’d vehemently claim to be ‘good’. If they stood up and helped the rest of us eradicate it, then they’d never get to reap the rewards.
Any time you witness someone being rude and hostile to a cashier or a bus driver, you’re witnessing an abuse of power. Because in that instance the customer holds the power, and their victim is in a vulnerable position. If that’s you, then hang your head! If you really want to rock someone’s world, then stand up for the cashier.
We also lament the diminishing natural resources of the world, yet how much are we willing to personally sacrifice? I haven’t noticed many ‘enlightened’ souls ditching their I-phones or computers in protest – lest they have to acknowledge the trafficked souls in distant third world countries, digging by hand for the rare minerals needed to manufacture the batteries we must have for our devices.
Yep, I’m typing this on my personal computer! Oh the irony. At least I’m not claiming to be perfect, and I’m a realist.
I’m also not suggesting we go forth in anarchy, and don our Guy Fawlkes masks before laying siege to the ‘institution’. I’m merely putting forth a sustainable plan whereby we hold ourselves accountable and lead by example.
Think that isn’t powerful enough? Well, ‘what we see every day, becomes our reality’. Therefore, if our children grow up witnessing us doing the right thing and setting high standards, then they’ll be more inclined to pick up the baton and pass it forward to the generation after them.
In the mean time I believe we must remain realistic. There’s only so much we can affect right now, but we can lay the foundations for a better society where politics isn’t a means by which to alienate anyone who doesn’t share our particular view. A willingness to engage in open communication with those who disagree with us, is the only way to achieve a compromise that works for all. At the same time we must remain willing to challenge those who use politics as a means to stifle debate.
We’ll never get everything our own way, but pragmatism will lead to a realistic and sustainable middle-ground that saves us from this current stagnation. Closing our eyes to what we find distasteful doesn’t make it disappear, but an open mind to doing something positive will make a difference. The first step is to take a good hard look at ourselves and ask ‘what can I do better?’
What do you think?