Monday, January 31, 2005

Passionless society, and the rights therein

This story almost surprised me. Understanding of the 1st amendment (let alone the rest of the workings of the country) among most of the youth in this country is definitely lacking. A lot of us have been raised with music and gone through youth with an ear to some pretty cynical/paranoid influences. There's no doubt some are reasonable concerns, while some are exaggerations, some are understatements, and others complete fabrications. These sorts of things, not just coming from celebrities in entertainment but pretty much any public figure, have played a role in shaping our society into one that is naturally suspicious of authority but at the same time having a desire to have some things taken care of by a central source. It's an odd paradox.

And now to refocus a little more on the issue of a passionless society...
Really it all ties in together, the lack of any real care besides a sort of mild hedonism, but there are multiple facets. A friend beat me to the punch about one of the concerns, that a significant portion of highschool students surveyed thought that the 1st amendment went too far. That being said, I can understand why they might think that. To make up for an increasingly low sense of personal accountability that can arguably be traced to the disintegration of the family (and therefore societal structure), schools, law enforcement, and the government in general have had to make numerous compromises and take some steps that do infringe on freedom. Abuse of freedom can be traced to our natural general tendency towards breakdown of higher level things and embrace of personal needs/wants above all else. It really is all very circular and unless people step out against some natural tendencies the circle will be a slow but potentially accelerating spiral downwards. While it is natural to want the best, we certainly fall into settling or actually acting on far less noble things.

And I'm slightly off track again... The reason is probably in the fact that the mindset I've seen as the predominant one in today's generations is decidedly slanted downhill. Part of it is due to the older generations attempted sanitization of reality without explaining the truth of things. Another part is our veracious hunger for entertainment at a rate that arguably is greater than any other society in history. Our youth are bombarded with messages of danger and excitement and desire and ambition. Acceptance is being touted as tolerance and in a mix of fear and marketing (whether it be politics, business, or self-preservation) we have decidedly clumped ourselves into billions of little groups and stereotypes for "easy" management. Why is this relevant? It's relevant because the kids in these schools who took these surveys are getting their understanding largely from a product rather than the true unbiased source. That's bad because these kids aren't dumb, and I'm sure at least some know they aren't getting the whole story but they're buying into it anyway because that's what they know. Still, they see flaws. The thing is that they aren't coming in at the ground floor and when they see effects of causes they've never really seen or experienced, they're going to act on what they know which is what we feed them (for the most part). Sources we trust most can be wrong even if its just in motivation. You can be doing something right with the wrong motivation or reason and it might even work for decades on end. Racism, class prejudice, sexism and numerous other faults ranging all the way to pride and selfishness that puts ones own comfort over desperate needs of others. All these things are often passed down through generations.
I keep getting off track it seems... It's just a lot of concern built up.

I suppose the reason I'm not surprised these highschoolers don't have that much care about these rights and our governmental structure is that they're so used to the mountain of preventive rules and regulations they live with. From dress codes to metal detectors, from cliques to pop culture, these kids are working off an ever tightening structure of law and acceptable society. It's only natural that they see it as applying to everyone else.

The lack of passion is understandable to me too. We're bombarded with information and suggestion from an wide range of sources and philosophies, we are introduced to things before we're ready and without proper guidance many times. After a while, after you've experimented with whets available and the rush is gone, you start getting numb when the myriad of both fiction and reality passes through your consciousness and leaves you with unrealistic expectations and limited or false understandings.
If you want to be cool or have fun, it is increasingly necessary to have money or do something unusual, extreme, or taboo. Being unique and special, having self-esteem and being rewarded is broadcast as the thing to do. Those things aren't bad in and of themselves but without context and inner direction of higher substance, it gets confusing when you see the millions of others clamoring for the same thing. It simply gets dreary in highschool. Many just accept things as they way things work and think they'll always be that way. We've settled into a way of life that is more fragile than most understand.
And so this post has turned into a scatterbrained rant that exemplifies the ideas that were attempted to be communicated. At least that much will make sense... Or will it...

1 comment:

Randy E. said...

Most of the time, replying to a 10-month old post would be taboo, but WOW. That post nicely summed up my thoughts about where society in this nation is headed. "I don't care about my freedoms, as long as I keep getting whatever I want, and no one tries to tell me otherwise." What I think society is missing is a reason to sacrifice. The upcoming generation has become disillusioned with the possibility of a "higher power," believing religious folk to all be unreasoning, dogmatic whackos. While many of their reasons for this are valid, many are not, and logic and science have yet to fill the gap (and I doubt that they ever will.)