Saturday, 7 July 2012

Blip: Society's misguided values

It’s funny how the most valued elements of peoples’ personalities in modern society tend to be taken straight from the list of human attributes I value least:

-Emotional openness: First off, this is a misnomer; emotions are the product of incorrectly analysing the signals that the brain uses to attempt to manipulate your behaviour to that which better benefits the species. Endorphins, oxytocin and serotonin can be pretty much exclusively thanked for all ‘emotional’ activity. I would rename this ‘emotional naivety’ or perhaps ‘intellectual naivety’ if it were my choice.

-Bravery: Although most people cannot come up with a suitable definition for the things they see as brave, (which almost entirely don’t actually fit the term) I have taken the liberty of making one for them: “An increased likelihood or high frequency tendency to put oneself in stupid, self-deprecating and dangerous situations out of misguided loyalty to country, monarchy or other badly defined words, i.e.  justice, morality, honour.”

-Brashness: Otherwise known as blazon insecurity, manifested by extreme acts of falsified social grace, comfortability and a desperate need to be accepted; often characterised by loutish behaviour, casual violence and/or racism and general disregard for the peace of others. The celebration of individuals who display high amounts of this trait serves only to feed to hungry ego of the subject and to have the same effect on those doing the glorifying.

-‘Achievement’: Notice the upended commas there, strung aloft by the burst of reason and sensibly applied common sense. I value achievement greatly, but I’ll get to that; what I’m talking about is the misperception of achievement, or at least, the achievement of much lesser feats usually defended by a ham-handed parry and thrust of a fingerpointer who will, so helpfully, point out that I couldn’t sail around the world or play basketball in a wheel chair. 

Now, of course I could, with a yacht and some training or a wheelchair and some practice, although I admit that both at the same time would present difficulties. My point is, anyone could do such things with the inclination, what we lack is not the ‘endurance’ (another wrongly used term) or the physical fitness (for they are gained in the process of completing the pseudo-achievement) but it is the inclination and nothing else; I do not count an achievement as worthy if all it takes to achieve is inclination to achieve it.

The things I do value include an amount of very personal things such as proficiency with language (which I see as a measure of a person’s patience, mental acuity and awareness of the linguistic structure of the world) but also many things I think should be what society as a whole values:

-Real achievement: That is, achievement conceived in the determined application of one’s attention, logical faculties and appreciation of the given field and that is born only in the final stages of completion of such a task. 

-A strong desire to better: By which I mean better yourself and those around you. Not in the interest of gaining points against each other or showing your superiority but about furthering all of us selflessly, as a conjoined whole.

I’m not making any judgements necessarily on the right and wrong things to value but wouldn’t it be nice to make a change and have worthy and worthwhile individuals put on pedestals rather than mindless drones of minor celebrity?

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