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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Peoples, and what's holding them back.


I remember, as I was finishing up my undergraduate degree, one of my professors commenting that there was a time when religion was a major force for social and economic progress, but now it might be a weight around the neck of developing nations. (I'm paraphrasing because it's been a while.) The bottom line is he was right. I thought so at the time and I'm more convinced now than ever.

I think this needs no further explanation, but I will just ask anyone who disagrees to look at the prosperity of secular nations as compared to those governed by religious ideals. I think this is true locally as well as on the global scale. Now, I'm not condemning religion. I am only reiterating that separation of church and state is the best idea in the history of government.

My argument, however, is only related to this in the aspect that members of religions identify themselves as members of that specific group. Shiite, Sunni, Hindu, Buddhist, Unitarian, Methodist, etc., are all ways people identify themselves. Here are some others that might be familar: republican, democrat, American, white, black, Jew, immigrant, native, Texan, New Yorker, Red Sox fan. I have no problem with these groups, or identifying yourself as being a member of one. No, my problem comes whenever people complain about things done to their people.

Did that make sense? In other words, I think one thing that oppresses a people is the individuals complaining about what is oppressing their people. This isn't the only thing to blame, surely, but it definitely doesn't help. Calling on all members of a group to rally around for justice for that group only prevents the members of that group from achieving what they could have otherwise. I feel like I'm rambling, but stay with me. I think I'll be able to get it out soon. Here it goes:

If all members of a group were to strive for what was best for them as individuals I believe this group as a whole would overcome oppression much faster than trying to rally the efforts of the individual to the needs of a group. There are times when the needs of the group and the best actions of the individual coincide, but there are all too often times when the individual sacrifices for the group unnecessarily. The individuals who do focus on themselves first of often berated by members of the group who complain that they "don't give enough back," and are called names and often ostracized. This leads individuals to focus too much on the group and no progress is made.

How often is progress made by a group as opposed to an individual? Please, let me know if you think I'm wrong. All I ask is that you explain your reasons.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you're partially wrong, the civil rights movement needed key individuals to raise up and be leaders (to benefit themselves, yes, but also the group as a whole) but without the support of the thousands of people within the group protesting in the streets and boycotting the buses, etc..the change would have taken much longer to be realized if it even happened at all.

In the case of the photo, I believe that is from the janitor union striking in Houston. I don't believe it is possible for one person, a janitor, to demand for better pay or health insurance and not get anything but an f-you or be fired. If all the janitors demand it and stop cleaning the office parks then maybe the employers will listen up.

You are partially right, If you spend more time working to better your self your surroundings and the people around you will also improve. But your view is extreme and a blanket generalization that cannot be applied to all aspects of civilized society. There needs to be a balance between whats best for the individual and whats best for the group.

WE said...

Spence, you make a good point, if I understand you rightly. A widespread concern for individual well being ought to lead to widespread group wellbeing...
but the other side of it is that if enough of us are concerned about how the group is doing (and how we individuals are doing) net good may also be gained -- the tricky part, and the point I want to make, is that what's most important is to learn to identify with more than the group of your own tradition (Christian, Muslim, carpenter, clerk) and instead learn to get worked up about the well being of all groups... to see all groups as your group and see your brotherhood with everyone, and work for the good of all. That's the revolutionary idea folks keep getting crucified for, but that's the idea that, when embodied and lived out, changes things big.
w.

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