The 7 Sins of Society
I've outlined in no particular order my 7 biggest pet peeves that I wish society would stop doing. I understand completely that all of these will continue after I have written this, but hopefully it at least gives you some food for thought. I would also like you to keep in mind that most of these apply only to first world societies and the U.S. in particular.
I wrote an entire post about how wasteful we are just with water (read here). There is so much I could say about how we feel like we need to buy things to promote an image, or fill a void, or out of habit, etc. It is so unnecessary and I really believe that millennials are discovering this. Minimalism is becoming widely popular for a reason. We're discovering that the reason why we have so much is because someone somewhere has so little and is being exploited to make it for us. Plus there's so much pollution as a result of making it, shipping it, and throwing it away. We take and take and give nothing back but more problems.
6. Listening to Reply
As a society we need to listen to understand, not to reply. I thought I was going to start this blog to post about the election (since I am a political science major and all), but I just couldn't bring myself to add more noise to such a noisy world. And you know what I've noticed? Even though so much is being said, nobody is listening. I cannot stand how rude people have been for the last year (and probably longer it just became more saturated in the last year). If you are not having a conversation in order to learn more about the world, the person you're talking to, other ideas, etc, why are you having a conversation? You do realize that in order for communication to be effective both people have to be sending and receiving messages, right? And you know that just because you do not agree with someone's political beliefs doesn't mean they're Satan, right? And that you're definitely not going to convince them that you're right about anything unless the conversation is pleasant, right? I mean for sobbing out loud I have 8 political debates per day with folks, but they don't realize it's a debate, they think it's a conversation because there are no interruptions or name calling and it's civil. They're all talking our ears off because they think they're 100% right and that if you disagree with them on one issue then it doesn't matter what you say you have now become the enemy and their mission is to destroy you, and not to have a legitimate conversation. So much more would get accomplished if society wasn't so rude.
It's so bizarre to me that society is so depressed and yet so narcissistic. 13% of Americans take antidepressants, yet we believe we're the greatest country on the planet. Don't get me wrong though, I am all for having national pride. One of the things I found so beautiful about Costa Rica when I studied abroad there was how much pride everyone had to live in Costa Rica. Keep in mind this did not mean they thought they were better than anyone else living in any other country for that reason. It did not mean their lives were worth more than those in other countries. This is where society in the U.S. fails. So many people think their lives are more important than anyone or anything else. Think of how this makes us look for a second. If you're at a party and you have the option to sit next to a narcissist who is boasting about how great he is or a polite, comedic (but not at another person's expense), and thoughtful person who is going to ask you questions and actually listen to your reply... which would you chose?
4. Not Valuing Education
I believe that people haven't thought this through completely. Without education the society train doesn't move forward, and in fact I would argue it moves backwards. We're running out of water, how are we going to create solutions for this problem if people aren't even taught THAT it's a problem? Why is this such a difficult thing to comprehend for our society? If we funded education I wouldn't have to have conversations about the problems that are facing us, but rather I could be having conversations about the solutions and we could work toward real change. Cutting education funding makes the future darker. In order for there to be hover cars there has to be someone in school who is taught not only how to create one, but they're given the tools to do so and most importantly, they're told that they CAN do it.
3. Not Planning Ahead
This ties into point #4. I was listening to a podcast that was describing how there are some Native American tribes who, when making decisions, decide based on the effects it will have for 7 generations! Companies right now make quarterly decisions... they are making decisions and only looking at the repercussions for the next three months! How is this smart? Give me one valid reason to back up this method that is not "to make maximum profits right now" and I will take this point off my list. Sustainability only occurs when you make decisions based on an outlook far into the future. If you want your business to sustain into the future, you need to plan accordingly. If we want the human race to sustain far into the future, we also need to plan accordingly.
2. Not Taking Responsibility for Our Actions
Every time someone says "global warming is not real" I feel us regressing 10 years. Taking responsibility for your actions makes you a mature, responsible, likable, intelligent and productive member of society. If you fuck up and you say "I am so sorry, I messed up and I apologize, I am going to take a good long look at myself and work to correct this mistake and prevent similar ones in the future" you have just reached level 9 of adulthood, congratulations. What are people going to say to you now? They can't hate you, I mean I guess they CAN, but if you were sincere and you really don't do it again in the future, then these kinds of mistakes can actually build your relationships with people. This also applies to groups and societies in general. If the U.S. would just say "Hey, we messed up and made some very bad decisions, we sincerely apologize for them, we are going to work with victims to correct these mistakes, and we are going to take precautions to prevent similar mistakes in the future" there would be a sigh of relief from so many countries and our relationship with them would improve. We would be more likeable and we might actually start to be taken seriously. I mean just look at what traits you look for in your personal relationships.
1. Not Demanding Excellence
Again, this applies to our individual lives, our communities, and our country. We allow for folks to be uneducated, we elect and settle for mediocre (and sometimes terrifying) public servants, and we allow corporations to influence what we think, and therefore buy. I don't understand why, especially in this past election for example, we've allowed for a choice between two evils and we're satisfied picking the lesser of the two. If I go to a restaurant and they have two options on the menu, live scorpion and dirty diaper, I'm not going to just say "oh well at least scorpions have protein". I'm going to get up and walk out and chose a restaurant with options I actually want to eat. I realize a lot of this rests upon the fact that people aren't properly educated, so they don't even know that excellence exists and that it's possible to achieve because they've been brainwashed otherwise. And this is a very useful tool in getting what you want, right? Think about it. If you want your child to eat vegetables, but you want them to believe they're choosing their own dinner, you don't ask them what they want to eat because they'll never choose brussel sprouts. Instead you ask them "would you like steamed broccoli or brussel sprouts for dinner?". They will pick one and think they've chosen their dinner, when really you got what you wanted, vegetables on the plate. If we all decided to stop allowing those in power to do this to us, the society train could pick up so much speed.
I could have probably written 25 sins, but I chose 7 for the obvious dramatic effect. What would be on your list?