Monday, October 26, 2009

One Of The Many Problems Of Big Societies

Big societies expose the absurdity of absolutes and the necessity of relatives! Of course my own reasoning suggests that if things are relative, they can simultaneously be absolute. click here for clarification This then exposes the absurdity of relatives just the same. How then are we to address the problems of society, asks the inquisitive skeptic such as myself?

When societies reach a significant enough size, social issues can no longer be addressed with absolute, easily drawn lines to separate something from not something. For instance, if there are 15 members in a society, the difference between the goodness or badness of them can likely be interpreted fairly discretely. For example, of the 15 members, suppose 3 are really bad and 3 are really good with the remaining being of average morality. In this case, the 3 really bad members can be punished for being bad and every member in the group will agree. Just the same, the 3 really good members can be honored and every member in the group will agree.

But when a society numbers in the millions, there exists a more or less uniform continuum spanning goodness to badness making it impossible to reach a consensus as to how to distinguish between good and bad! As such, the discreteness of what makes somebody standout as being either really bad or really good, deserving enough of punishment or honor is LOST! This is the ideological war that is forever apparent in societies, especially large ones!

For example, at what point should one be considered worthy of an entitlement (think tax credits, welfare, scholarships)? At what point should we embrace what is best for the collective or what is best for any given individual (think health-care reform)? At what point should we sacrifice human pursuits for the sake of ecological balance (should we begin regulating population like China and/or lessening our relentless pursuit of "progress" which would in turn violate many commonly held notions of freedom)?

At what point does any given decision, all of which are inherently discriminatory, become what society would call "unfair" discrimination? For instance, it seems reasonable to discriminate against the crippled if I am interviewing candidates to work in a saw mill but is it reasonable for me to discriminate against Muslims or blacks if my patrons dislike them? These issues become impossible to answer with definitive moral standards.

It is my opinion that there is ultimately NO certainty and that ANY answer is merely arbitrary. The trick, if you will, is to get everybody to agree on ONE arbitrary answer to any given issue thus potentially leaving society with the false impression that the agreed upon answer is any more "right" than countless other arbitrary answers might be.* But once again, because society is so large, it will be very difficult to get it behind ONE answer to any given issue. Hence all the arguing and name calling and resentment and suspicion and labeling of dissenters as STUPID or EVIL only because they do not agree with their arbitrarily chosen answer to said issue!

Perhaps the only hope for large societies is to have one collective mind CONTROLLED by a benevolent dictator or any other for that matter? Maybe God or some highly advanced alien civilization or perhaps even our own technology of the future? To many this would seem despotic and evil, but what is the alternative? Incessant fighting and arguing over who is "right"! If we were unaware that our minds were controlled by a collective simply to engender agreement and hence peace, perhaps this ignorance could be the bliss we yearn for?

On the other hand, maybe incessant fighting and conflict is something we unconsciously yearn for and, dare I say, NEED? Might this be a vestige of our evolutionary past? Or perhaps it is God that has instilled in us a desire to be in constant conflict with somebody or something?

*This perhaps illustrates the societal benefit of the "herd mentality". For what will likely result from sheep not following this method of standardization? Anarchy. However, myself being a free-thinker with little or no inclination to side with a collective(s) simply for the sake of being "part" of something, I can honestly say I have never felt any compulsion to become anarchistic. Reason being, I see anarchistic thought as just another collective to be a "part" of and hence something less than free-thought. In my opinion, a "true" free-thinker sees everything as it is in its essence, thereby avoiding the distinctly human hallmark of placing LABELS on everything. For example, anarchists tend to be very critical of religious institutions and the "damage" they do as a result of effectively indoctrinating others with what they consider to be fallacious information. Notice how anarchists label religion as bad IN ITSELF similar to how religious zealots label atheistic thought as bad IN ITSELF. However, as per what I consider to be "true" free-thought, I label neither religious indoctrination nor atheistic thought as bad or good IN ITSELF because not all religious indoctrination and atheistic thought is bad or good and hence some forms of either can be beneficial or detrimental to society. But the "herd mentality" aspires to place labels on things IN THEMSELVES** most likely because they foster clearer, more concise answers when confronted with the most dubious of crossroads. This creates animosity within and antagonizes dissenters, in turn strengthening the identity of BOTH groups further perpetuating the conflict. Once again, because we are social animals, we have a need (perhaps more accurately just an irresistible instinct) to be "part" of groups to give us a sense of "social" identity. But this "need" to be "part" of clearly defined groups is antithetical to other groups. This in turn creates "artificial" conflict and disagreement.

**Once again, I find myself in contradiction. I seem to place labels on things IN THEMSELVES just the same. When I claim Jesus taught us to forgive not arbitrarily but absolutely, does this not imply that forgiveness is or at least should be good IN ITSELF? In this way I am claiming forgiveness should be unconditional and hence ALWAYS good. It matters not what extraneous circumstances there may be, JUST FORGIVE BECAUSE IT IS GOOD IN ITSELF! This is equivalent to claiming that both religious indoctrination and atheistic belief are good or bad in themselves, a notion I just finished criticizing!.....To experience this life fully seems to me a paradox.....

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