Some would say it happened long ago, and others might argue that it’s modernity eroding away the moral fabric of our society. Religious fundamentalists accuse liberal politics and education, while those with humanistic views fault the restrictiveness and narrow mindedness of extremism for holding back human evolution. Either way, it seems there is some sort of craziness infecting society, from the perpetual rants, arguments, and denigration that permeates some popular social media channels on the internet, to the constant political infighting which keeps our governmental institutions from making any significant progress.
American society has a problem, which is consistently revealed yet perpetuated by news media, embodied in violent mass shootings and acts of police brutality, and worsened by societal apathy, latent institutional racism, and an unrelenting individualistic and overly consumeristic culture. Our society is obsessed with the ‘cult of personality,’ as is evidenced by the popularity of celebrities, personalities, and presidential candidates with questionable worldviews and moral standards. American celebrity culture is even more dubious and intellectually disturbing, since we ceaselessly entertain ourselves to death with the misbehavior and impropriety of their on screen and off screen lives.
The world as a whole has many problems too, but many in our society only focus their attention merely on the symptoms, or even divert their energies toward what they perceive as symbolic representations of the symptomatic expression of what they believe to be the real issues at hand. This preoccupation with abstractions and meaningless battles against such ridiculous notions as the ‘war on christmas’ or the inconsequential culture war of conservative and progressive values, is one of the major threats against the future of our society.
There are far more important battles to be fought against the social ills of injustice, poverty, and inequality. We really have no good reason to concern ourselves over the private lives of others or to worry about the cultural implications of corporate product designs. It is petty and extremely short-sighted to be more concerned about what women are allowed to do their own bodies, whether or not same sex couples can be legally married, or what some corporation does or doesn’t include on their most recent holiday design.
Those who want to limit, control, or regulate the acts of others to better suit their own beliefs or ideologies contribute nothing constructive to society, and really deserve to be ignored. The fact that so many respond with equal outrage to the egregious statements and claims of the willfully ignorant only compounds the issue and fuels the flames. Why do we pay so much attention to those who make obviously untrue statements, make claims the are completely inconsistent with reality, and have no actual place within any real political or social debate?
My conclusion is that our society has literally gone insane. Why else would we just continue to shrug off school shootings, police violence, mass incarceration and the perpetually unjust war on drugs in favor of discussing the idiotic opinions of presidential candidates who are more interested in discussing themselves than anything of importance? Does it really matter whether people prefer to say ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Merry Christmas’? What if, perhaps, a person doesn’t even celebrate Christmas or any sort of holiday season?
As we continue through the next couple of months of family gatherings, social events, and, of course, the all important mass consumption of consumer goods, let’s try and set our political correctness and ideological differences aside. We should let our minds be captivated by all that is good and truthful, rather than allowing ourselves to be spellbound by the spectacle of cultural and political nonsense, corporate marketing schemes, and extremist rhetoric. When we let ourselves become transfixed by meaningless things, we can easily be reactionary and allow ourselves to be manipulated, and even brainwashed by those who seek only to take advantage of others.
However we each express our truest feelings, beliefs, and ideals shouldn’t matter. Many of us are unsure, confused, angry, sad, lonely, or depressed and hardly even know where to start when it comes to figuring out life, much less navigating through the social, cultural, and political landscapes. It’s difficult enough dealing with family dynamics sometimes, or even office politics at work, much less finding a way to engage effectively within social constructs and wade through all the hype and marketing campaigns.
Everything these days is designed to swing our emotions from one extreme to another. We’re bombarded with overwhelming displays of decadence, irresponsibility, and rage over anything and everything. It seems there is always some kind of controversy giving people a reason to argue, or dislike someone or something for whatever supposed reason is claimed to justify hatred or disdain. Either way, don’t let the power of marketing manipulate your behavior, make you do or say anything you don’t believe in, or cause you to give in to the craze of those swept up in the current of whatever is the trending topic of the day. And celebrate life however you want to celebrate. But do celebrate, with authenticity and grace.