Thursday, January 22, 2015

"Social Deviance and Anomie"

It is staggering to me having come from a generation that learned to respect teachers and think of doctors as nearly divine to see violence perpetrated upon them. Maybe the problem is thinking of them as gods instead of human beings who are not always perfect. Who of us is always perfect? But I think it more than that.

The fundamental supports on which a developed nation needs to survive are being shaken to their core from Bill Cosby to the Patriots to our own nation's fudging the truth about something as serious and threatening to life as war. It is exemplary of but not exceptional to those educational and medical institutions. It is reflected by a lack of respect in many other arenas as well.

Whether it’s politics, education or health care and more we tend to look at these institutions now with suspicion. The government does "not knowingly" spy on its citizens says the NSA Director lying to Congress. Once we thought they cared about us when in reality, in our culture, money and power is the bottom line and what the "caring" is all about. Advertising is a good yardstick. We are told that the businesses selling a product really care about us but in reality they don't. They care about making money. Whether it's insurance companies, hospitals or the maker of widgets they usually care about us insofar as they can figure out how effectively they can say something, heretofore even immoral things, to make us buy what they are selling.

The man behind the curtain has been exposed in our technological age. We collectivity feel, perhaps, a sense of insecurity and anger about those institutions in which we put our trust to help us live but seemingly do not care about us at all. We are an open society and to be anything else is alien but that does not mean our culture must carry with it a side car of policy cruelty.

One of my first readings in college was a sociological treatise entitled "Social Deviance and Anomie" (author’s name unknown.) It made an impact on me since I remember its title from many years ago. It was rational to think that a feeling of alienation from a culture into which one was born could be related to the deviance of drug addition, law breaking and even violence. Collectively, I have always thought human beings do better when we feel connected to each other and if we think that someone in our culture cares.

We are a heterogeneous nation of capitalistic immigrants that lends itself to Ayn Randian feelings of alienation and cruel individualism. No, I am not arguing for a socialist economy. I am arguing for a developed nation developing policy that at least seemingly cares about all of us–rich and poor alike–who reside within it.