“Purposeful manipulative social change without a common good caveat is a form of social evil”
It seems to me that in my lifetime a lot of things have changed. But then change is one of the constant certainties of life. However, I am greatly concerned by how manipulated we have allowed ourselves to become. Let me canvas some of the manipulated changes I have experienced and make some observations.
Of course one’s age might bring a different perspective to how we view manipulated change. Obviously if you are very young you will have nothing to compare what follows with anything you have experienced. In other words your ‘now’ might be your norm.
For example, I happen to believe we are, as a society, more manipulated now than I can ever remember. You can see it everywhere. Murdoch’s manipulation by virtue of excessive media ownership. Political manipulation by institutions, lobbyists and corporations more powerful than government. The manipulation by television stations who would have you believe that mediocrity is excellence.
And manipulation by the blatant falseness of advertising. If you think about your everyday life you cannot avoid the fact that a lot of the things you do are manipulated in a way to influence your decision making processes.
I have been retired now for ten years and I have had time to think. In fact, if I had my time over I would not be the slave to the work ethic I had. Thinking is impaired by too much work. We spend so much time at it that we have lost the art of thoughtful observation and creativity.
It seems to me that we have more disposable income, so we think we need to have more things and we become confused with what we want as opposed to what we need. Of course we are manipulated into believing we need things because it creates jobs. Spend up big this Christmas. We are told that even things that are bad for us we are entitled to. I’m thinking salt, fat and sugar that are causing a worldwide epidemic of obesity and in the future might take half the nation’s income to pay the health bill. We have more leisure, but less fun, more kinds of food, but less nutrition.
But conservatives say it’s the individual’s right to free choice.
So we end up spending more but enjoying life less. But we still need the money of course. We have been manipulated into thinking we need a bigger house because Bill and Mary have one. But it will take two wages to pay for it. Who cares that it will mean a smaller family and less family time?
Our possessions have increased enormously. Nothing is repaired anymore. We have become the replacement society. But at the same time our appreciation of the value of our possessions has declined. We have become so manipulated by ‘Affluenza’ that we have forgotten what frugality means. We are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying simplicity. A consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having stuff, and has failed to teach us that doing things is more pleasurable than processing things.
We have confused the cost of living with the cost of lifestyle.
We live in a manipulated, failed economic system where unregulated capitalism (in the absence of anything better) rules the day. But we are manipulated into believing that this failed system is the best economic solution. It is however, a system where a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level.
We want our children to have a better education and they are getting it. The current generation have more degrees than ever before. We have more experts, less judgment and more problems. Probably because education is presented as a means of obtaining wealth rather than as an altruistic pursuit that might better humankind. I call it manipulated competitive capitalism.
We now live in a society where science is respected to the point where it conflicts with the profit that capitalism demands. Then the conservative right together with vested media interests manipulates facts and distorts the truth to discredit it. The environment is but one area where we are being manipulated by un-credentialed fools who are tell us that science knows nothing.
By people like John Howard who would rather rely on his instinct than scientific evidence. It was probably his instinct that sent us to war in Iraq. A decision that certainly wasn’t evidence based.
I wonder what price the people of tomorrow will pay for the stupidity of today’s environmental vandals. We have allowed ourselves to become so manipulated that we have lost all commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry as the best way of providing solutions to human problems.
The ability of thinking human beings to blindly embrace what they are being told without referring to evaluation and the consideration of scientific fact, truth and reason, never ceases to amaze me. It is tantamount to the rejection of rational explanation. We would be a much better society if we took the risk of thinking for ourselves, rather than allowing ourselves to be manipulated and obstructed by the unadulterated crap served up by the media and self-interest groups.
Politicians manipulate truth because power is all important .They have lost any semblance of public morality and duty to the collective common good. And we have seen how they will even manipulate racial hatred if it advances their power.
These are the days of two incomes, a decline in marriage with more divorce, of bigger houses, with empty hearts. And a proliferation of kids with single parents.
Churches, because they mistakenly believe they have an ownership on righteousness manipulate people into believing that love and morality is exclusively a domain of religion. And they don’t allow their own immorality to impede on their self-righteousness. Added to this is the manipulation of minors by men of the cloth.
We have become obsessed with celebrity and the media manipulates us into believing that people of little virtue, talent or character are somehow important. More often than not because they have acquired notoriety, wealth or influence.
We have been manipulated into competitive living while at the same time we have forgotten how to laugh or even volunteer. Now what was the name of that family across the road? And we don’t comprehend the difference between manners and civility.
Enormous advances have been made in medicine and in the future discoveries will increase significantly. More drugs are available for many illnesses but the large drug companies manipulate who gets them and the price paid. There is however, much less wellness.
We have succumbed to domestic violence where men manipulate women. Despite some advances by women, men still rule the world and manipulate it to maintain their physical, academic, corporate and sexual dominance. And history records their manipulation as an ongoing incompetence.
People are living longer but are less happy and the incidence of mental health has become a social problem. We mumble a lot without saying much, we seldom love meaningfully and the joy of sex has degenerated into casual opportunism.
It is a time of enormous profits, little leadership, shallow thinking and superficial relationships. A time in which technology is making extraordinary advances but our intellectual reasoning seems unable to appreciate its capacity for good without the word ‘profit’ attached. We are conquering outer space and diseases, yet polluting our environment and our souls.
We allow ourselves to be manipulated by exaggerated, flamboyant rhetoric that is designed to heighten a sense of alarm, or simply to gain our attention.
Unscrupulous people manipulate our social behavior and the young fall victim to the persuasive influence of debilitative drugs.
And lastly, the purity of our playtime, our sport has been manipulated by the corrosive effect of money and drugs. And the cheats, in turn, manipulate us with their lies.
“We dislike and resist change in the foolish assumption that we can make permanent that which makes us feel secure. Yet change is in fact part of the very fabric of our existence”
John Lord 2012.
Purposeful manipulative social change without a common good caveat is a form of social evil.
“The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages . . . It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile”.
Robert Kennedy, 1968