Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A societal black hole, and our consistent attempt to defy it

This post comes from reading about Frank Abagnale Jr., the real life story of whom has been portrayed in the movie Catch Me If You Can. He actually did all that Leornardo Di Caprio did in the movie, and more! In a recent interview with him, he was quoted saying:

I am a true believer that one of the biggest problems for crime in America today is lack of ethics and character.  True, we do not teach ethics at home. We don’t teach it in school because the teacher would be accused of teaching morality.

...and I agree with that. Ethics is taught, not got. Morals, on the other hand, are got. The fine line between something being taught and got is consistency. Every society in the world that survives peacefully and respectably, most importantly to its own members, thrives on balance and balance leads to consistency. We need balance and consistency. Yes, both.

Consistency implies linearity in values and functioning. Balance implies growing from that linearity into newer territory which may deviate from that but which expands that to the new, more accommodating linear nature of society. For example, if society endorsed that pointy shoes were the shoes to be worn in public, and all agreed, that's what we would be taught by and brought up with. We would consider it highly unfashionable to wear anything but pointy shoes to a formal occasion and the person who did would be booed/looked down upon or expelled. That's linearity (or consistency).

Now, times move forward and people bring along vans as acceptable wear. So people start booing while being countered with the logic of moving forward in the world. Soon enough, vans will be accepted as acceptable footwear too, and people with vans and pointy shoes are not booed, perhaps over a much longer time but nonetheless. That's balance.

While society leans well on consistency, it provides adequate and reasonable room for tolerance in balance. That's an openminded, reasonable society. But don't be mistaken, society had to be led. When a child is brought up, he/she is brought up in a particular way, some particular way. Children can't be brought up in no way. Instructions can't be empty and unintentional, even if they're just passed on culturally. And when we don't think about the instructions we impart, we teach what was always taught and cycle of meaninglessness in society goes on and on and on.

Each of the things we teach them, meaninglessly, just like how it could have been taught to us, become the basis of how we percieve, act and behave. And, collectively, that contributes to the stupidity of society which we'll never realise because we become (and are) that exact stupidity and stupidity cannot recognise itself. Duh! So if you want to not get to that stage, think before you become it. Once you've crossed that line, you can never turn back to being the unstupid people that society will need at all points in time.    

This is where the right ethics comes in. It was either always taught, or never taught. People who were taught know them. People who weren't don't. So the ones who steal and crime don't consider it to be wrong simply because they were never taught that it was wrong, and it's way too late now. It's the opposite case with those who were taught that it is. And that's what Frank Abegnale Jr's right about.

But go one step back, and you'll realise that if you ever have the ethics problem that you don't realise, you didn't have parents who questioned what they lived and therefore what they taught you. They never considered life a (positive) contributive force that evolves into greater society goodness that advances how we live together as a society. That's exactly why you do what you do, and speak of wrong, right, bad and good the way you specifically do. 

They just lived, and never wondered to ask why, except wonder how someone can ask them how they could just simply do that. Doing that creates habitual but meaningless ways and values of living that defies the fact that a societal black hole cannot exist, by logic, whether good or bad. When we do that, we ignore the inherent meaning in the meaninglessness. Habits that are loaded with values that build people and society are treated like the fancy toilet paper that ends up being used because there's so much extra, and there's only that (and nothing else). Like we're so used to it, we don't even see the irony. Like we never will.

That's why Frank Abagnale Jr. is right. We've go to think about 1) how we live 2) the world we live in (minus the obvious unquestioned comfort about how things have been how they will be) 3) how we bring up our children (and the next generation).

Thoughts on that, anyone? Let's start with 1) first.