Individualism and the absolution of social responsibility

The human experience: peculiar and fraught with hypocrisy and the grasping of straws and other things. Us humans, the ‘wise’ ones whose hips grant us the ability to walk on two legs, and our ability to supposedly ‘make’ things. One moment, we assure ourselves and everyone around us that we are ‘this’ kind of person, and hypothetically drive a stake into the ground in declaration. Upon waking the next day, we reach for the vices of yesterday and are propelled by some undefined and existential need. We state we are one thing, and we act as another thing, a being driven by worldly forces beyond our control.

Today, I was attracted by a common sentiment: two proverbs of Western civilizations and self-help enigma. The first being that, one should ‘love thyself.’ Especially prior to external validation. There are many platitudes which one can repeat daily. The second being that of ‘individual responsibility,’ coddled in values brought forth polished by The Enlightenment of Western Europe, which include (so stated): Reason, Liberty or Freedom, Progress, Tolerance, Constitutional governments, and Separation of church and state. These are Enlightenment values of Western Europe, emerging in the 17th century.

It is arguable that Enlightenment values are good and just in some context, but individualism absolves interpersonal social responsibility.

It is arguable that Englightenment values are good and just in some context, but individualism absolves interpersonal responsibility. If it is most important to remain stalwart upon thy mountain-top, to love thyself, to ‘pull oneself up by the bootstraps,’ it relinquishes social responsibility to thy neighbor. Such platitudes and self-help philosophies of the 19th-21st century American new-age movements, release social responsibility to one’s neighbor, friend, or relative. At worst, it means money and employment status should relinquish guilt and suffering, but perpetuate social isolation.

When words of individual responsibility, individual love, and individual healing awake from the abyss of self-help platitudes, better to turn a questioning eye to those whom absolve themselves of social immersion and connective responsibility. While it is a wholesome ideal to improve oneself, it is also a shameful shirking of interpersonal social responsibility to blindly project Hellenistic platitudes of Stoicism. The questioning eye should not be condemned to the object, but rather, to the one forming the object in order to absolve their own social responsibility to another.

Just a thought. –C.L.Q.

10 Social Services We Don’t Need

I’m sick of paying taxes on irrelevant social services. It’s my hard earned money, and I ought to be able to do what I please! Why should I have to take care of my dumb neighbor’s kids? Here is a list of basic public services that proud moderate and middle class Republicans will finally rejoice in being without, when the United States is completely controlled by the “Tea Party.” Okay…so there are a few things here that I’m hoping my super-rich Teapartier best friends will help me pay for.

School. Hey at least kids will love it. 365 Snow Days a year! If you can’t afford private school, try teaching your children about the water cycle, long division and Mesopotamia at home. There are lots of fun kits and workbooks out there.

Fire Department. Next time dad burns dinner and catches the house on fire, who you gonna call? George Bush? Let’s get our church together and do a bucket brigade from the local lake or stream.

The American Red Cross and other emergency response groups. Yes, these guys get funding from the government too. Where are you going to go when the bucket brigade fails to put out your burning house? Or if the Loma Prieta or Katrina happens again?

Public Transportation. Walk. And don’t complain if you’re overweight, out of shape or disabled. Sometimes, it’s the only way to get from point A to point B. When life deals you a leaky radiator or a vehicle accident, I hope you’ve got a backup car.

Libraries. Where are new home school teachers going to buy $300 text books? Oh wait, the library had a copy of that…

City and County Parks. Like Disneyland, you might have to pay to walk across the street and use the swing or kick a soccer ball on a grassy field. Careful, those homeless bums who lost their house to a fire last week might be sleeping in the spiral slide.

Planned Parenthood. If you’re a good mother, like Sarah Palin, and you teach your children abstinence, then these types of clinics will become obsolete anyway. Oh, and if you’re worried about that lump in your breast or the unusual bleeding from down under, I hope you’ve got enough money to find out what it is!

Sewage Treatment Plants. We’ll have to find somewhere to throw our poo! In the middle ages, people used to throw it into the streets, so I’m sure that will work just fine.

Environmental Protection. Grampa, how long ago did deer become extinct? Next time there’s a raging wildfire, try that bucket brigade thing again. National Forests, Parks and other public lands? Forget it. Allotments will be auctioned and sold for wealthy folks to do what they please. An OHV park? You’ll have to ask permission, or pay a hefty fee if you want to sled, hike, boat, bike or camp on that land.

Street and highway maintenance. Who needs pavement? Dirt streets will be more porous, allowing sewage to seep into the ground faster. You’re not going to sue if the church’s snowplow nicks your Hummer, are you? After all, they’re only volunteers, if they even get to your street.

This list compiled and copyrighted © 2011 by C.L. Quigley