Free Flying...falling?

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An example of an excellent critical analysis paper by Josh Curtis.

I believe that the greatest social problem we face currently is to be found not in the people of our society, not even in the people who seem to be the "puppet masters" of our society.  Rather, the problem is in the structure of the system, a system that has called itself many names but has failed to evolve into anything that is greater than it is.  It is a system based on servitude not service, competition not cooperation.  It resides in; democratic nations, communist nations, and socialist, presidents, dictators, kings and queens, it is the culture of power.

Social problems are almost never a standalone problem, yet the majority of the solutions that are offered or pursued do not address the problems in a holistic way.  It seems we break everything down and separate it according to our own culture and by isolating the parts we attempt to salvage the whole.  In America, the best strategy for dealing with a social problem is to hide it from the citizens, or we present it as an isolated tragedy.  We will hide the source of the problem but then we will exploit the hell out of anyone we can pin as a poster child for some socially deviant behavior. 

As a philosophical perspective, I feel there are bonds we cannot always see or feel that connect us all as a part of this world and our actions will directly, and indirectly affect those in the world, people we know and strangers alike.  To me, everything is connected, and so when addressing social problems you have to consider that these problems do not just stand alone they are bonded with other issues that have to be identified before attempting to create a solution.  Furthermore, too often, there is a reason for social problems that is often a constructed one.  Other social or environmental problems could be causing them likewise; they could be causing a very different problem for different groups of a society. 

This makes the defining of social problems very tough, for who is going to define the problem?  Are the people in power or the people in the middle of a social issue the ones who will define the problem? Or, a group that seems the most removed from the situation, and then who will decide what the solution should be?  This is an important part of the problem solving process.  The subjectivity of social problems make them very sticky and hard to resolve for it seems often one group is benefiting from a given social problem while another is suffering.  What purpose does the problem serve is an important first question to ask.  Many of our social problems can be tied to the economic system that we live and operate under.  This makes solving a social problem rooted in our economics very difficult because what change is required may affect a completely new group of people.  Not just those who directly benefit or suffer would be involved the whole society would be transformed if we were to address a problem like poverty.  Change seems to scare many people and most opt for ignorance instead of action, so there will usually be a faction of the community in opposition to a social change or movement even if in the end, they would benefit from their action.

We live in a society where our success is dependent on the suffering of others, often others that are distanced from us by geography or social class.  So that we can live our successful lives in the illusion that no one is suffering from our success.  Many people would rather continue being ignorant and living their successful lives than face the conflict their lifestyle creates and to take action in fixing their wrongs.  What amazes me as I look back on history and at the conflicts and social problems that litter our past I find the roots of our current problematic social tree lie in history.  Since the beginning of civilization, there has been a social conflict of inequality, a culture of takers that has thrived at the expense of the environment and or other people.  The magnitude and severity has varied and there have been revolutions and movements, wars, and even if we win the battle,  the war continues.  Problems like poverty, hunger, war, discrimination, abuse, unequal distributions of wealth and power, these problems have persisted throughout written time and continue today.  Like the mighty hydra, the monster of injustice has many heads and grows them back as soon as we stop fighting for them.

A society or nation should be judged by the way in which it interacts within itself, with other nations and with the environment.  These should be the ranking criterion for determining the health of a nation, and who needs deserves the most aid and support.  A nation should not be judged on the amount of natural resources, or labor resources, that can be exploited or how much money it can or does generate.  I believe that as citizens of the earth it is our responsibility to live in a balanced and harmonious way with the planet and its inhabitants.  Unfortunately, the culture of power has spun the rest of us so far out of balance it may be too late.  A wall has been created that somehow distances people from the earth, and people go out into nature like they are walking out on the moon.  We pride our species on being wise, Homo sapiens means wise person, yet we are not wise enough to take care of each other or our home, earth.  I believe we are brave enough to rise to the challenge, and witty enough to overcome it, but it is as though we have been in a thousand year trance and we keep getting more and more dangerously lost in it. 

Eitzen and Zinn say, "the United States along with other developed nations must seek solutions to the environmental crises facing the planet.  This means mandating that the developed countries reduce the production of materials that pollute the air, water, and land."(Social Problems p108)  The leadership of our nation is turning more people and nations away from us as the effects of our profit mongering corporations our felt across the globe.  We are a hypocritical nation and what we will not let our corporations sell on our soil, like DDT, we have no problem with them unloading this toxic material onto other people.  Furthermore, we will then more than likely import the foods which had the toxins sprayed on them and put those foods onto the shelves of our local grocery market, this is an import export economy.  If we do not begin mandating changes in our economic, international and domestic policies environmental, and social issues will continue to escalate, and within our nation the very grim divide of haves and have-nots' will grow deeper.  When it becomes a matter of survival as it is for many groups and societies already, violence and terrorism become all the more likely, even live. 

The exploitation of natural resources and people, our nation and other colonial and neo-colonial nations, have caused in recent and past years has and will escalate violence across the globe.  According to an article posted on Article Archives called, Climate Change May Spark Conflict Between Nations, by John Reid, there are many geographic locations where neighboring societies and cultures have shared resources, but due to climate change, control of these shared resources have become more coveted and restrictive.  One of the most precious resources we have, our fresh water, is running low and becomes less fresh each day.  Several locations like the Nile River, the River Jordan, and the Brahmaputra River in China and India already are beginning to feel the pressure escalate as control of a resource by one nation may be choking another.  The United States may soon face this problem, as it needs more water from the great Colorado River that Mexico is also dependant on.  Will we revoke their rights to this precious resource and at what point would the American people feel justified in doing so?  What would the response be from Mexico?  A  chilling but very real possibility as resources like water become scarce and the demand for them continues to rise.  It is not in order to be evil, but for sustenance, that the rivers would be cut off. 

It is no secret or myth climate change, or, global warming, is related to carbon emissions, mass flooding and erosion that destroys villages and leaves watersheds saturated with sediment is related deforestation, industrialization and corporate practices have exploited and decimated our biosphere and atmosphere, and the result is a rapid climate change, which affects everyone and everything on the planet.  The greatest problems that we face as a united global community arise from the malfunctions, or the misleading, of societies and the forces that drive them.  I see no distinction from a social problem and an environmental problem and I believe they can be defined in the same way.  What is the benefit?  Who benefits?  Who is affected negatively?, positively?  What is the negative?  What can be done to achieve the needed benefit without causing the associated problems?  What solution will best address the core of the problem and not just treat the symptoms of one.



1)      Social Problems  10th Edition by Stanley Eitzen and Maxine Zinn Pearson Publications page 108

2)      Climate change may spark conflict between nations by John Reid posted on Climate Ark  Last visited 01/26/08

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