11) Sociology

Little Jack Horner sat in the corner,
Eating his Christmas Pie.
He stuck in his thumb,
And pulled out a plum.
And said, ”What a great boy am I!”

In English history, nursery rhymes such as this were used to attack the prevailing autocratic powers. They provided a camouflage for the aggrieved dissenters. Such “ditties”, however, may just as well be applied to situations in today’s societies. With respect to “Little Jack Horner”, the same pride and arrogance seems to envelope those whose good fortune, or self-serving actions has resulted in wealth and power, much as the English kings and nobility possessed the sense of “divine right”. This is all too apparent at the moment as the prevailing Republican philosophy tends to view the poor, and the dispossessed as simply the deserving victims of their own choice.

The rationalizations put forth to justify unjust actions often taken to gain or maintain advantages sit at the core of the struggle for human survival. Rationalization, of course, is a way of hiding from the truth. It is an effort to believe what we prefer to believe rather than actuality. whether it be “Born-againers” finding Jesus, Republicans feeling wealth is destiny, Astrologists seeking truth and power in the stars, we sabotage the possibility to understand one another.

It should be obvious that if we are to have a populace capable of coping with the task of human survival in the nuclear age, quality education, care, and nurturing of our youths has to be our first priority. Lack of proper funding has largely reduced our schools to mere containment centers, while most adults remain immersed in escapist activities costing many times the price of adequate schools.

The ever-burgeoning crime problem, as with the assembly line analogy in education, might be compared to a dam springing leaks while the people search for more buckets to catch the water, rather than going for more cement to seal the leaks. In other words, instead of dealing with the source, and providing more resources and aid to schools, and families, we rush to expand our police forces and prisons.

The crime problem, which seems to occupy brunt of our social concerns, and assuredly forms the cornerstone of most political campaigns in America today, could be but a minor concern if our priority was to provide quality education, health care, housing, food, and transportation to all our citizens. This provision could be accomplished with the allocation of less than 10% of our total resources, energies, dollars or whichever way you would like to count it. It shouldn’t take a ten-year government survey to establish this. Just go to any city or town, and count the buildings space and employees given to banks, insurance companies, real estate offices, law firms etc. Then check the bars, the sports stadiums and fields, entertainment centers, and fashion shops. Compare the preponderance of private vehicles spewing fumes over the availability of public transportation. Note the number of fast-food establishments and gourmet restaurants catering to our temptations as contrasted to restaurants featuring healthy meals. Excessive paper-shuffling, and rampant escapism! Is it truly in our best interest to devote such an inordinate share of our energies and resources to this?

Much has been said about the war on drugs. Yet when shall we realize that simple addiction is the real problem? Drugs are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to addictions in our society! It’s truly the many addictions which consume the brunt of our time and energy, leaving precious little of that time for the study of human values, essential needs and understanding. There’s no end to the overindulging in anything Madison Ave. (The Advertising Industry) wants to sell. Materialism takes a thousand forms. Rampaging market competition compels us to over-satisfy each and every manufactured taste from cigarettes to cars to sports events to rock music, fashions of all sorts etc. The cigarette industry goes so far as to argue before Congress that any effort to diminish its prominence is almost anti-American because it could result in loss of jobs and harm the economy. Little emphasis is left or found for developing and nurturing the type of pleasures or satisfactions which derive from activities particularly beneficial to one’s fellow human beings.

In California in the June Primary Election of 1994, with one-third of the eligible voters participating, two-thirds of those voting turned down crucially needed school bonds on the ballot. What this means is that only one of nine citizens actually cared what happens to our children and our schools. Eight out of nine didn’t care! These are the same people that the polls indicate consider the crime problem to be our major concern. And the politicians are stumbling over each other attempting to come up with proposals for more police, prisons, death penalties, and longer jail sentences.

When are we honestly going to ask ourselves: How did we get this way? We are not, as any typical candidate for public office will assure us, a great nation, a great people! We are, in essence ,a narrow-minded populace sorely in need of new values, and knowledge necessary for survival in the 21st Century.

Another area in the field of sociology must inevitably be addressed. That is the growing specter of overpopulation. It poses a menacing threat to our collective future on this earth. Apparently overpopulation is not quite the problem in wealthier countries as it is in the impoverished. That alone should give us a clue as to why it’s important to establish some measure of economic parity world-wide before it’s too late!

In the mid-ninties the OJ Simpson affair rocked America. An examination of that episode affords us an insight into sociological forces at large in our society. A synopsis of the affair follows at this point.

Following OJ we’ll move into the area of religion, which is a key factor in the effort to alter any system of values in a society. We’ll examine the effects of religious institutions on our lives.

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