I am sure that many besides me have pondered the adverse characteristics of society and the system that governs and influences our lives. The mentalities, practices, and flaws that are par for the course have contributed greatly to the problems we face. Situations and difficulties are repeatedly handled using the same ineffective means and ambiguous motives that ensure that nothing much improves. I often wonder how this system can survive in the long run, or even how it has survived thus far.
Through personal experience and observation I have observed four adverse characteristics of society that are endemic and form the basis of how our system functions, and heavily influence all else within it. These characteristics are not displayed by everyone, and some display more than one. Yet they are prevalent in society to such an extent I felt it appropriate to briefly address them here.
Quest for Money – To be sure, we all would like to have more of it. After all, it is necessary for basic needs and it buys nice things. I like money as much as the next person but I am not motivated by it, nor is my existence defined by it. For many this is not the case. Their purpose in life revolves around the pursuit, acquisition and hoarding of money – ultimately allowing for the control of others. For example, the large corporations and banks with their questionable business practices and attitudes have created an increasingly unstable economic climate. Though there is much criticism little has been done to rein them in. The power we have bestowed on money is such that it can become an obsession and compulsion that displaces other considerations in life – and other people. Money, along with resources, religion, and control are things people will absolutely battle for and kill over. Money is an inanimate object. It doesn’t engage in questionable behavior or attitudes – but people in the pursuit of it do.
Focus on Appearances – This is the unwritten Social Bible of our society, which is followed more closely in practice than the Christian Bible. This is especially apparent in mainstream Christianity and the business world. This preoccupation and drive to be socially acceptable and presentable rules decisions and actions, and often overrides common sense. It’s not a concern about others liking them for who they are or what they can contribute. It is pursuit of acceptance and approval in order to attain social advancement, status, and material gain. This is not an environment where traits such as honesty, integrity, or ingenuity thrive or are recognized and valued. A disparity between professed beliefs and actions is a typical characteristic of this mentality. This is a toxic environment where submitting and not diverging from the acceptable path is the norm. If you don’t fall in line and play the game then you are considered abnormal and difficult. It is the true herd mentality, and a true detriment to improvements and change that are sorely needed.
Lack of Common Sense – Whatever makes sense, let’s do the opposite. This is an unspoken decree, and if it isn’t, well then you could’ve fooled me. Time and again this can be seen everywhere. You have to wonder at times how anything ever gets done or even how things function at all. Well they do function, just not very efficiently or constructively. There is a lot of waste as a result – of human potential, resources, time, money, and opportunities. Society tends to flow according to the current status quo. Even when faced with undesirable results, people are reluctant to challenge or change existing norms unless and until mentalities collectively begin to change. If something isn’t working, or not working well, it makes sense to try something else. However, most wait for permission or to see what others are doing or saying before attempting or endorsing anything different.
Lack of Ethics – Deception, abuse, indifference, corruption, and other various forms of criminal behavior permeates our society today – it is all around us. In fact it has become so common as to be considered normal now. There is no shock or dismay when most wrongdoings or questionable behavior are exposed – only an opportunity for some good gossip, finger pointing, and feigned outrage. Higher education institutions teach ethics now as an acknowledgment that yes, ethical behavior is a concern. But what they fail to acknowledge is that you cannot really teach an adult ethical behavior. Ethics and a sense of right and wrong are formed in childhood. By adulthood, core personalities are formed. That’s not to say people cannot change, but most do not. Unfortunately too, many cannot grasp or simply don’t care about anything that doesn’t affect them personally or their little corner of the world.
All of these adverse characteristics can be observed operating all the time in every level of society. They can be found in every profession and business (public or private), every economic class, and every demographic category. When problems or questionable behavior becomes known then what is heard are lies, excuses, evasions, and apologies that fall short. Seldom is there any real change for the better. I don’t have any magical answers as to how to change any of the above, but there needs to be more accountability across the board, even at the highest levels. Until we have that not much is going to improve overall. It would be advantageous to see more concerned people become involved to influence and change practices and processes which are ineffective and produce undesirable results. Doing so is not easy or without risk, but it is necessary. Without change there can be no improvements in our situations, and a stagnant society holds no benefit or attraction.
“The chief obstacle to the progress of the human race is the human race” ~ Don Marquis