Thursday, July 4, 2019
4th of July Reflection (2019)
I was asked what I perceive as major problems in our society and I would like to share my response:
I believe there are some key problems:
1) A poor education system that fails to teach people how to think critically and doesn't encourage people to think for themselves or creatively -- testing is the worst mode of assessing knowledge and teaching lessons. This is not the fault of individual "teachers," instead it is a broader problem of an educational "system" (public and charter) set up to fail the general population that can't afford an elite education.
2) Our media system is dominated by massive corporations that do not care about informing citizens or supporting creativity. 85% of the world's media is owned by five corporations. These corporations spread disinformation and censor vital information we need to know in order to even begin to address basic issues vital to our communities/society/nation/world. Think about how terrible most films, music, etc are...... apply the same process to the information you get from these corporations.
3) Teaching yourself to think critically and learning how to access a more complete understanding of world politics and social issues is difficult without help. It took me ten years before I was able to make sense of any issue and I made it my job as a professor. Think how hard that is for people who have to work other jobs, have families, etc...... It doesn't have to be this hard, it could be much easier.... I know because I teach students all the time how to access information about the world. Why are these basic skills not taught from the earliest age.
4) Our government is dominated by corporate money and generally corrupt. Although there are good people working in the government and we need to support their efforts. Always remember it is not a matter of replacing individuals, it is the system that needs to be changed. We currently have the worst President in my lifetime, but this problem will not change if we just replace him with the least bad person.
5) Our society is more and more set up to keep people atomized (seperated from others) rather than encouraging collaboration/empathy with others (where the people find their power).
Never trust anyone that accuses other people of being biased -- this is sure sign of a manipulative communicator because anyone with basic knowledge of communication and history knows that it is impossible to communicate anything without bias (bias is simply having a perspective). Reject manipulative/simplistic TINA - There is no alternative - statements/beliefs.
I'm biased--I have a perspective. I am always willing to explain it because that is the most honest way of communicating. Also be suspicious of those that will not fully explain their statements and those that preach hate for groups of peoples.
This 4th of July imagine what we can do to build a better society/world,
Michael Dean Benton
PS: Probably one of the biggest dangers in our society right now is the broad-based/blanket dismissal of groups/classifications of peoples ... try to recognize the individuals that are making a positive difference and make clear when criticizing serious social/political issues that you are talking about the problems of systems. For instance, my critique of education or law enforcement or government or etc.... is about the systemic structure and I do not say all teachers/administrators or police/judges/lawyers or politicians/bureaucrats/democrats/republicans/independents are bad/corrupt/incompetent. That would be lazy thinking on my part and it alienates potential allies in fixing the problems of those systems. Even worse, when we fail to see individuals and classify groups of people as bad, it is a first step in failing to recognizing/respecting the humanity (or whatever) of those individuals and can lead to an acceptance of the worst actions (say... murder or incarceration) as acceptable.