Culture and Religion

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This collection of essays, a brief view of life, could be used to teach an adolescent the basics about life.

Respect

Respect is more important than ever, now that humanity is in the process of moral decay. This has been observed by many; for example the lyrics to the song Eve of Destruction, written in 1965 during the time of the civil rights movement and the demonstrations against the Vietnam war, contained the line: 'when human respect is disintegrating.'

Every human being is endowed with the capacity for empathy, to understand what another person is experiencing or feeling. Respect is the consideration for the other's feelings, needs, ideas, or preferences. Respectful behavior is critical for the health of a community or any social organization. Society is based on the basic right for each person to live his or her life as he or she chooses as long as respect is shown for the equal rights for all others. Wherever human respect is lacking there will be suffering.

There is now a global elite in control of the world's finances; absolute power corrupts absolutely. American is now an oligarchy as those leading the national government are bought by special interests, and the legislation and court decisions are rendered to the benefit of those interests. In 2000, a manifesto describing a new American century marked by global military domination has lead to America's global war of terrorism where unfriendly (to American interests) governments are overthrown resulting in failed states (like Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine). This global empire definitely does not serve the interests of most Americans and so the police force has been militarized to suppress dissent. This top-down hierarchy of control without accountability has resulted in corruption at all levels, all the way down to the police who are now able to kill (as with Michael Brown or Tamir Rice) and steal (called civil forfeiture) with no effective consequences - absolute power corrupts absolutely. This police state has even broadened to include police officers installed in schools so children are also subject to their presence daily, where a policeman is assumed to maintain 'order' through intimidation and the threat of arrest - leading to the current pipeline from school to prison.

Within this society where military action is valued over diplomacy, where police intimidation is valued over community action, where accountability is lacking on bad behaviors by our leaders at all levels, it should not be surprising that society suffers.

Bullying is a widely reported problem in our schools. The bully does not recognize the other person is a real human being with honest feelings but is instead a dehumanized object - the person is not treated with respect. The bully turns off his/her innate empathy for another human being, so the bully is also dehumanized to initiate this terrible bullying behavior. The bully will often pick on someone in some way different, so the bully can probably incorrectly justify the bad behavior as against someone not worthy of respect.

America has a diverse population and that should be cherished, not used for persecution. The corrective action for a bully is to involve others, for bullying is a social problem and requires a collective action to change an individual's bad behavior like this.

Sexual assault is also a widely reported problem. The behavior is much like that of bullying except the target is typically someone vulnerable, as the person attempting the assault is probably seeking to get away with the sadistic act, to avoid any consequences. The person being assaulted is dehumanized, as not worthy of respect. The corrective action is more difficult in our patriarchal society, where women are typically not treated with as much respect as men, so a justice system dominated by men is more likely to ignore the problem of sexual assault on women much more often than on men. Even worse when the victim is a woman, many political conservatives (usually men) will blame the woman for the attack; this is nothing less than an unbelievable combination of 17th century witchcraft and 21st century horror movies, as if a woman casts a spell on a man causing him to become a mindless violent zombie to bring on her own torture. That the person making this claim is not immediately publicly disgraced is also another unfortunate sign of moral decay in both our leadership and society, especially when a number of people voice the same bizarre claim.

When individuals act with disrespect, the results will ripple beyond those immediately suffering. Also, unless one is a sociopath, there might even be some guilt felt if those consequences are noted, leading to unfortunate justifications including: it is just part of the job.

Despite the moral decay that has its roots in the political decay within the American democracy, each of us is always fully responsible for our day to day behaviors. The ‘Eichmann defense’ is widely discredited. The definition from the urban dictionary:
 

    The claim that someone was "only doing their job" or "merely following orders" to excuse causing grief to someone else when they could have just as easily been helpful. Eichmann was the chief organizer of the Nazi 'final solution' to the 'Jewish question' and claimed (unsuccessfully) at his trial that he had only done what he had been ordered to do.


Whenever dealing with another person, always maintain respect. Please remember he or she is above all another human being, with their own unique background and circumstances. It can be easy for some to rely on a prejudice, as if one individual is somehow impossibly identical to everyone else in some particular small segment of the population (as in race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, etc.), to avoid doing the 'right thing' when there might be some conflicting pressure (from the supervision or from the peers) to persecute this particular individual.

Such social pressure has been recognized in many different academic studies. As human beings we are innately sensitive to the behaviors and attitudes exhibited by others around us. That empathy can be a disadvantage when that pressure leads to our own behavior being disrespectful toward others.

If the ongoing moral decay will be reversed it will require a collective community action. It is ludicrous to expect some government reform because those in charge would be acting counter to their narrow self (and selfish) interests. There are innumerable people willing to be lackeys for those in charge, to behave selfishly while others suffer by their actions.

Only by consciously maintaining respect for everyone in our communities, regardless of political pressure to alienate or persecute different segments in society (in the common tactic of divide and conquer), will our society become improved, when we can share happiness with family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.

There are various pressures in our American culture against such community action. The police state is definitely tasked to suppress dissent; large public demonstrations are now commonly attacked unless they meet prior approval from political leaders, implying the demonstration is inherently worthless and cannot achieve reform. Corporate and government policies are consistently against worker efforts to unite against poor working conditions (poor as in wages or in safety). Individual actions are rarely successful while a collective action can bring about recognition and change. Unfortunately most Americans are brought up in a Christian context with a religious belief in an afterlife. The emphasis on an individual salvation also implies individual action is paramount, thereby denying the importance of working with others on community goals. People are social beings but the emphasis on each individual suits the political goal of hindering collective action.

We must individually strive for respect of others, while seeking to improve the status of everyone in our communities. Only when entire communities are united can their society be improved (away from moral decay) and only then can true political reform be achieved.

created - October 2015
last change - 10/31/2015
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