Friday, April 26, 2013

A Cry For Help

Modern Living

Those who do not weep, do not see.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables 

If someone made a cry for help in a modern urban centre, would anyone hear it? Would anyone care? Would anyone act? I suggest that the answer is generally a disappointing “no,” respecting the individual’s personal space and giving him or her distance. Most individuals say they would, or might, but it is likely that most would fail to act, for various reasons. Thought in this case does not translate to action. The only exception is when large crowds amass at a public event or space, and see a need to respond to a terrible incident, as was the recent case of the Boston bombings on April 15th.

Yet, on the individual level, things are greatly different. A cry is a signal that something is wrong; a baby communicates by crying, signaling it has some unmet need. Parents rush to the baby, seeing what it needs; this is both natural and normal. When adults cry figuratively, which is the case I was laying out here, the response from other adults differs from that in response to an infant. Adults are supposed to be mature, responsible and take care of their own needs. It’s part of being independent, conventional thinking says.

Does that mean that adults should never ask (cry out) for help? You can but don’t expect any response. For the most part you are alone; you might get advice—it's freely offered—and criticism that your actions do not meet their expectations. After all, it's about meeting expectations. Sadly, the answer in today's modern society is indifference, a shift from the progressive ideas of empathy and social cohesion. The crude American expression, “Man Up” explains much. A favourite of conservatives, retrogrades and others who want to return to the good ’ol days of the 1950s. Life was simpler. Perhaps for some people—certainly not for many.

My own experience—a small sample, it’s true, bears this out. “If you are suffering, Man Up and do something about it.” What a beautiful world we live in.  The ’50s are back with a vengeance with the introduction of narrow and restrictive retrograde policies common to the thinking of both social and economic conservatives. It’s the willful and consistent destruction of The Social Contract—a processs that started thirty or so years ago, much to the detriment of social peace and social cohesion. Such policies will not last, but for now they continue to damage the very fundamentals of democracy in many, if not all, democracies, including the United States and my own nation of Canada.

So, this leads to a thought: what if it’s not an individual that is crying out, but an institution, a nation that has been good to its citizens for long. Short note: Democracy in America is crying out for help; it is a mature adult, almost 237 years old, but it is tired of defending itself against relentless attacks, mostly from within. What are you, we, going to do about it?

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