What do we as a society want?
I feel like that is the question that has skirted the edges or been an integral part of my blogs and my podcasts. What do we expect of ourselves and others in our society?
More specifically, why do we often expect more of others than what we ourselves can produce or give?
I've seen this pretty consistently this year with my students, who have had a large number who enact the "demand respect without being able to give it" mentality.
But honestly, I realize that it is something that is endemic to much of our society. We expect "Jesus" of others when we ourselves are barely capable of "Judas". We expect a president to be perfect, our managers to be omniscient, and our employees to be ever enduring.
Listening to a podcast recently with and interview with Jordan Peterson (who many hate for their own reasons) and he said something very interesting. He is a clinical psychologists and he and his team have created a tested program known as self-authoring. During his talk with Joe Rogan, he said he felt a lot of our issues in society have been the development of our technology but not our morality. He thought, rightly or wrongly, that with our removal of religion we have done away with the official search for the self, the search for a true sense of who we are at our innermost core, and replaced it with labels, as in what labels can define us.
Now I cannot say whether he is correct or not, but it is an interesting idea. He also discussed the idea that with the fall of the religious hero, and the military hero, we have lost our guiding moral lights. We have our civil rights heroes, but those are hard for some to identify with. He continued by saying we've attempted to fill that void with book and movie heroes, like Harry Potter and Spider-Man.
This is what stuck in my head. I realized that I never really received the moral religious education growing up (despite my mother's best attempts), yet I still have a very strong sense of right and wrong.
I received that from the books I read. And oddly enough, those books gave me a better idea of the ideal moral person I want to be and should be than religion does for others. The Dark Is Rising, Ender's Game, Dealing with Dragons, the Hobbit and more gave me heroes who were flawed, reluctant, who grew, who overcame, who made sacrifices for others, who did what they felt was right, and either survived their experience or did not, but were deeply changed by them. And my ability to skim read and miss details (such as the fact that all of those heroes are white) allowed me to immerse myself in those stories.
I feel like we are really dealing with a society of three parts right now. Our religious aspect, who truly expect perfection from others but also realize that that is impossible and harbor a little resentment over that. Our apathetic aspect, who didn't read that much or get into religion that much, and really don't have a deeply ingrained moral compass. And our bookish aspect (which does overlay with the religious, but tends towards the contemplation of themes over the actual religion), which has a firmly ingrained sense of right or wrong, but it is tempered with the reality that we are all flawed on a fundamental level and that heroes are the ones who constantly struggle to overcome those flaws, whether successful or not.
Am I saying books are better than movies? Yes. Sorry. The time it takes to work through them, the depth of detail that exists, those allow you to slowly process information and integrate it, whereas in a movie it tends to come quickly and leave you with just emotion and very little processing.
This three headed aspect of our society is playing out in our schools. What do we expect of our districts? Our principals? Our teachers? Our students? Our parents and guardians? We range from demanding perfection to believing massive incompetence to not caring to having a small understanding of what they go through. Do we measure them on the stick of perfection and fire those not there? Do we not care? Do we realize that they are all imperfect but struggling and support them as such?
I do have answers. But they are not perfect. And they will take time to process before I can share them. They are also just my answers. They may not work for all.