Monday, October 25, 2010

Individuation versus Mass Conformity

When reading the newspapers or watching broadcasts, a central theme emerging, is this argument over whether individuals should be allowed to make their own choices -- or whether those choices should be made for them, by those who presumably know better, what is best for everyone. That is the central issue of all the arguments. And then the mass media's job, is to tell everyone what those edicts are, whether through public service announcements, personal biases and political/social correctness, or more intensive courses of socialization, as schools, universities, and professional/trade associations.

These arguments are as universal and as old as recorded time of which the story of creation, is God asking the quintessential man and woman, "My way or the highway?" And of course, the road leading anywhere else, is fraught with perils -- unlike the garden of eden for never venturing outside -- and discovering whether life could be any better.

The quality of life, is the measure of whether individuals have more choices in life, or whether they have no other choice but to accept their one fate -- determined by others. That is at least the symbolic and public function of elections that are carried out regularly and predictably -- which many have learned to to take for granted, which is also their choice too.

But the importance of choosing often and whenever possible, is the fulfillment of a life of choices -- and not just the promise of it, always unrealized and untapped, because, that is the difference in the outcome of lives -- if for no other reason than the realization that every action and behavior is a choice, and not a destiny determined by others.

For those who have been around long enough to have witnessed the difference and changes, they know that even those of the same age and economic circumstances, can now be very different not because of one big choice, but the result of many little choices -- that altogether added up to a big difference in the end -- which never ends because they are still choosing, and not just resigning themselves to a fate determined by others -- which in the end, is the beginning of the end of life.

That can happen at any time -- and so at election times, the critical question to ask is not whether one is choosing never to have to make a choice again, or whether this present choice, leads to more choices or less, and ultimately none, because those who they have chosen, will know what is best for them forever more -- and so they never have to do any more thinking for themselves.

But assuredly, they will be told what to do, and when to do it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Truth Is Out There (Information on Demand)

It should come as no surprise that the world we live in now has changed very greatly from the world many grew up in -- in the previous century. Since then, most of the world has been created -- and most of the world that existed prior to that, has disappeared or become irrelevant. Nowhere is that more true than in how we obtain information.

In the previous information age, what we learned and knew about, was what those who fancied themselves in charge, thought we ought to know and learn, which is therefore the emphasis on control above all else. Already in the middle of the last century, many were beginning to rebel against such a notion that some self-designated few, should determine that for everybody else -- because presumably, they knew better.

Then beginning in the '50s, a few began to question such authority -- the most notable being George Orwell, Ayn Rand, Henry Miller, Abraham Maslow, the beatnik generation of the '50s as the precursor to the more popular and heralded '60s, when such rebelliousness became increasingly more acceptable, and recognized as a counterculture, or alternative culture, and ultimately evolving beyond that, to alternate realities -- chosen individually and uniquely to one's own tastes, talents and inclinations.

What made that possible, was having access to all the information that was out there -- and not just the information self-designated priests of information control hierarchies, wanted, or thought we should know -- to establish and embellish their position in the socio-economic (information) chain. One's status in that information hierarchy, determined how much access one had to all the information -- and so the world has changed very greatly for those who have realized they can determine what it is they know -- beyond what others, even well-meaning people, determine is the extent of all that can be known, or what they "should" know.

That is increasingly the cultural divide between those living lives of the fullest possibilities and actualities of the present time -- and those still living in the past (the last century), cut off largely by their (self-imposed) access to all the information available, which is being created faster than one can research it.

So the challenge of this Information Age is increasingly to shift from a mode of learning only what others would like us to know and think correct (mass media and culture), if not the limits of knowledge and the universe -- from all that is actually possible to know now, and even participate in the creation of that knowing (discovery) as the new fulfillment of life in these times.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The First Step is Always the Hardest

It seems now that whenever one looks at the Hawaii media reports, things are getting uncontrollably worse, and the people have lost their hope and will that they can get any better.

The latest stark image is that the communities adjoining Waikiki -- where there is reportedly a resurgence of customers and business -- is that the sidewalks outside of a public library branch, has become a homeless campground -- because apparently, there is no law against it.

Those who initially demanded that something needed to be done about it -- on the eve of such a resolution and enactment, then turned against the measure, undermining that will, confidence and community resolve -- because of the possibility suggested by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), that such an obstruction might be an expression of a yet-to-be-found individual expressing their right to freedom of speech in such a manner.

Of course that is hypothetical, and quite a shift from the past precedent that somebody actually in fact, had to have had their rights violated in that way, and not simply the possibility that it could be plausible. That is, one had to have an actuality of actions and events, rather than simply the thought of it -- blurring the lines between fact and fiction, plausibility from actuality, and not being able to differentiate any difference -- which of course, is social anomie and disintegration, even in a self-proclaimed "Paradise."

The reality of life now, is that it has become unaffordable and untenable, for all but the most fortunate, greedy or ruthless -- and of course, those who cannot distinguish such differences, which are the extremes of the very rich and the very poor. But a pleasant and easy middling existence, is all but impossible anymore.

That won't have been the first time such imbalances have ever existed -- because it has always been a precursor to societal decline and disintegration -- even if at one time, they were at the greatest heights of civilized social organization. That's why the Greeks, Romans, Macedonians, Egyptians, French, British, and some would say, Americans, are no longer there.

But there is always some other social organization/entity eager to replace them -- as the Chinese, Indians, Brazilians, and Russians again, now think is their destiny. Otherwise, the king lives forever, rather than just another king.

The hope for any declining society, is the example of societies that are working and emerging -- and not those in their twilight. So while the civilizations in decline are becoming more "socialistic," the societies on the ascent, are becoming much more "capitalistic," or demanding and determined that they are going to reward and fund profitable enterprises rather than the counterproductive -- confident that they can recognize and know the difference, while the backwater societies slide into a hopeless quagmire of despair that such things are still possible.

The first step is always the hardest.