This is a paper I wrote last semester for soc2. I could add to this recent events which bring to light systemic corruption which allowed yesterday’s events to even occur.
Remain in love and light.
The World is a Helpful Place.
The world is a helpful place. Our textbook presents data and research on the various failings of social institutions in the US and the resulting despair, corruption, disenfranchisement, and grim outlook. (Henslin) Although the information we study combined with myriad social issues we face today make the world appear hostile and unfair, the world, indeed, is a helpful place.
Consider the time periods in the past wherein various forms of government practiced extreme control of the people and nearly every factor in life was predetermined by status. A ruling noble family had a duty to protect and provide for the peasant farmers. A general or decorated war chief had a duty to “Queen and Country.” Men would have been obligated to provide defense for the women and children at home, provide new opportunities to expand control of resources, and to provide resources for said women and children. Men not fighting or politicking would have had a duty to a trade or profession most likely dictated by class. Women would have had a duty to educate children, create and maintain a home, and defend the home-front in the absence of a husband at war or engaged in travel or trade. Children would have known what their role and duty was well before reaching apprenticeship, marriage, or a career. (Hanagan) Indeed, the freedoms we exercise today have been largely taken for granted as society has evolved. Although wealth created certain privileges, we have no proof that the wealthy are any happier. If the wealthy enjoy a less stressful and happier life, we have no proof that the poor do not have that same happiness with life – blissfully unaware that there could ever be another way.
Documentarians who visited the third world and lived among the poorest people in the world found interesting data. The title The Happiest People on Earth says all we need to know. The people who are barely surviving compared to western culture are the happiest. During the course of the documentary, director Bello Galadanchi uncovered the contributing factors of this happiness are isolation, strong community and family ties, and an attitude of love for life and gratitude for everything life has to offer. Because the people featured had so little, they appreciated it all. Because they had so little, they relied on family and community ties to work together and care for one another. Because they were isolated, they had no technology to constantly advertise to them and so there was no desire to purchase and consume items. Value was placed on family and tradition versus “stuff.” (The Happiest People on Earth)
By contrast, industrialized capitalist nations are inundated with technology- including the technology to record video and edit the resulting footage into a documentary to show to those in wealthy communities how others live. This is helpful in designing a better future for both the industrialized and non-industrial nations. The world gives us ample opportunity to discover and explore what is really the most meaningful to us and our lives by examining a variety of cultures and how they thrive. This exploration helps us to see where we came from, how we got here, and how to better improve lives for all people on Earth.
The recent tragedies around Black Lives Matter and the murders of African Americans, (mostly males) by law enforcement have brought to the forefront issues which previously lived in the shadows and went ignored. If it had not been for the shutdown of COVID and resulting dependence on media for entertainment, many people would not have seen the horrific video evidence of George Floyd’s murder. It was a tragedy that shocked so many and yet, the world is a helpful place. We finally had irrefutable evidence in our newsfeeds and on TV of a system of institutionalized racism which spurred important conversations among families, religion, political representatives, scholars, and researchers. We uncovered groups of people who perpetuate racist ideals and we identified possible solutions to reeducate people and weaknesses in our system. (Hill, et al)
The world is a helpful place. Prior to COVID-19 we had a growing number of viral and bacterial outbreaks which were largely ignored by the American public because they did not seem to affect too many people. (WHO) A simple Google search returns article after article where we still see places with low population concentration where “anti-maskers” have shown a rebellious outrage at the idea of the Government trying to protect their health and the health of the nation by enforcing mask regulations. Prior to COVID, the education system in the US had been brought under scrutiny. With the wild uneducated speculation and resulting movements which deny science, we see that American ignorance is deadly. (Henslin) Another Google search will return many articles reporting spikes in numbers after many social gatherings by young adults. Famously, spring break in Florida and the reopening of the Disney World Theme Parks caused enormous spikes which were immediately dismissed by those “anti-maskers.” And despite media attention, many Americans, regardless of political affiliation, still believe COVID-19 to be a hoax. One article reports as many of 75% of Americans believe a conspiracy theory about the legitimacy of COVID-19. (Schaffer) My sister is a nurse. It is not a hoax. COVID-19 has shown us our failings and weaknesses. Our dependence on media has brought this and other failings into the limelight.
The world is a helpful place. If you look at numbers throughout US history, the statistics are clear: War, crime, poverty, and other social issues are on the decline. (Henslin) We believe they are getting worse due to the constant stream of media attention on the problem and very few positive reports of change and actions which benefit Americans. Indeed, human beings are habitually wired to seek out the problem and only do something about it when it is loud enough. The fight or flight instinct has conditioned us to look for danger. On the other side of fight or flight are reason, creativity, innovation, and play (work for enjoyment versus pressure to perform). These four elements are abundant in the world but have been conditioned to emphasize attention to problems. Even our US system of dissent dictates that the squeaky wheels get greased.
Once upon a time, I believed that companies had vested interest in keeping a highly educated and happy workforce. The exchange of money was important to the company to stimulate the economy by creating a cycle of payment to employees who will then spend money buying from their own employer and other companies who their employer may also have investments in. Infusing the economy with educated and skilled workers who are adequately compensated reduces crime and poor health which reduces costs to everyone – especially companies who spend enormous amounts of money to protect themselves from cyber and real-life theft and on employee health insurance. A better paid workforce is good for everyone.
I used to believe that politicians entered the political arena to make change for the better. Lawyers, judges, bureaucrats, police, and the military were viewed as being there for our own good. Corporate billionaires were believed to be caring people who relied on the teeming masses to support their lavish lifestyles and thus viewed this relationship as harmonious and beneficial to their personal interests as well.
Today, public opinion is highly skeptical and low on trust. We are shown evidence of corruption and theft and we believe that those who are corrupt perpetuate the entire group. One bad billionaire spoils the bunch! With world poverty, climate change, and war being unnecessary now due to technology, we see the wasteful habits of the middle-class and the overindulgences by the upper classes as being criminal when there are others still suffering – despite the numbers which show that we are doing a lot of good in the world. If it were in the best interest of companies to invest in these social issues, we could eliminate them easily with little loss by the wealthy. The impetus to continue to do things in the old ways die out as social ideologies change; and dissent demands change.
The world is a helpful place. And it continues to grow in its helpfulness. As we evolve our ideologies evolve. Humans have been through revolution after revolution wherein “the people” have wrestled the freedoms over their own lives and destinies from the “powers that be.” The prisoner’s dilemma dictates that due to low trust, people will always choose their own self-interest versus the interests of the people. High trust creates community, cooperation, and love for life as witnessed by documentarians.
The world is a helpful place and when viewed as such we see a clearer picture. Free public education, state sponsored college education for the poor, entitlement and wealth transfer programs, large-scale food production, efficiencies in all production, telecom, the cell phone; all just a few examples of the helpful world in which we live. (Henslin) And if we foster these relationships around trust and helpfulness, we eliminate the need for dissent and public disruption. And the world is so very helpful that we are learning that now, as we navigate both the bright and darker sides of 2020.
The world is a helpful place. It’s our job to shift our perspectives and see it that way again so that we will walk in the direction of unity and community versus division and disenfranchisement.
Hanagan, Michael. “Ruling Families and Dominant Classes in Modern European History.” Sociological Forum 1990. Periodical. 2020. .
Henslin, James M. Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. Parson, 2012. Texbook.
Hill, Evan and Christiaan Triebert, Drew Jordan, Haley Willis and Robin Stein Ainara Tiefenthäler. “How George Floyd Was Killed in Police Custody.” NY Times (2020). 2020. .
Schaffer, Katherine. A look at the Americans who believe there is some truth to the conspiracy theory that COVID-19 was planned. n.d. 2020. .
The Happiest People on Earth. Dir. Bello Galadanchi. Dolar Pictures. 2015. 2020. .
World, Health Organization. WHO.org. n.d. Website. 2020. .