Archives for posts with tag: society

We’ve all heard about the Holocaust. An extremist German man imprisoned an estimated 15-20 million people in Death Camps, succeeding in killing an approximate 11 million. We’ve seen the stats; we know the facts. We’ve heard and read the stories; Anne Frank’s perhaps being the most famous. But there’s still so much more we don’t know, and never will. So many records destroyed, so many bodies burned or buried and lost. But have you ever wondered why it worked? And now, from where we stand in 2017, do we yet understand the magnitude of such a disastrous crime against humanity, by humanity?

Throughout the course of the war in the death camp Auschwitz alone, approximately 1.1 million were killed while it was staffed by a mere 7 thousand. Of course, they were starved, tormented, and tortuously overworked. And the Nazi’s had guns. But 1.1 million. The manpower alone could have overwhelmed 7,000, guns or no. The casualties would have been great, sure, but as we now see, and as most prisoners guessed their own fate, those fates were worse without an uprising. So, why wasn’t there one?

Well, that’s the part we don’t want to admit about Adolf Hitler. He was a racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, mass-murdering, and abhorrent human being, to put it lightly. But he was also a genius. That’s why it worked. Because the Holocaust was conducted brilliantly.

His greatest crimes do not only lie in the slaughter of 1.1 million people. Because before they were killed, they suffered far worse than death. His system was not fragile, and so, it was not destroyed from the inside.

If you want to know more, read the book. It’s dreadfully honest. It’s real. And it gives you eyes into the self-perpetuating structure of the death camps. It will make you nauseous, it might make you cry. And to date, it is one of the most sickening and worthwhile books I’ve read. But don’t crack its spine on the dock of your vacation home. This isn’t one of those books to read under the sun with a lake lapping around you. It’s a book you read with the doors shut and a box of chocolates nearby. It’s the book you read as a tribute to those who didn’t make it out. To those who lived and died inside it’s pages. We don’t do that carelessly or with joy. But we should do it nonetheless.

Primo Levi offers a beautiful perspective on this horror. He stands apart from his torturers, and his experiences. His anger, his hatred, hardly leaks into his words until they are deserved. He does not encourage his bias. He’s an academic, and he treats his experience as a third party would. He does not relinquish them of their guilt, or forgive them their sins. He does not hate the German people, though he admits their blind participation was pivotal, if not essential, for the capture and mass slaughter of millions of human beings. Instead, he seeks to learn, to understand, to punish those who deserve it, and, above all, prevent this from ever happening again.

I cannot give enough credit to Levi’s beautiful sense of humanity, or his ability and style used to approach writing this book, with the memories of his lost friends, his shame, and his experience. He offers a unique perspective on forgiveness. His is based on logic. It is not unconditional, and it is not undeserved. Those who receive it, have also received his pity, his disappointment, and his attempt to understand. And there are still many who have not been forgiven, and who never will.

There are a multitude of lessons that we can learn from the Holocaust. From Hitler, from the persuasion and power of an entire population of people. From the mass slaughter. And unless we take heed to remember them, to understand them, we are vulnerable for history to repeat itself.

Recently in class we read a lecture by Michel Foucault, “Society Must be Defended,” that really got me thinking.

In this essay he talked about the transition between two modes of thinking: man-as-individual, to man-as-species. Before, when we had monarchy and sovereign rulers, an individual’s actions were defining. They determined, at least to an extent, life or death. If a man stole, his right hand would be lopped off. If he insulted the King, his tongue would be cut out. For even more ‘sinful’ acts, he’d be killed. Man-as-species, however, is a shift from individuation to, if you will, ‘massivism.’

I would argue that this shift of the deindividuation of the human is an era we still live in. Today man is one in a society; a nation; a population. We are all ones in 7 billion, and our governments treat us as such.

Our problems only become their problems if they are generalized: when they become the problems of the general public. The problem of one is trivial. It’s meaningless. One in the whole is nothing.

Foucault goes on to describe the term biopolitics, which is when biological processes, such as mortality rates, birth rates, illnesses etc., become political issues. An example he uses is endemics. They cause mass spikes in mortality rates, which are expensive to manage and decrease the productivity of a population. As such, there comes the “solution;” the implementation of public hygiene. It is not out of altruism, where the government personally cares for each individual’s health. Instead it’s a result of the economic consequences of that endemic. It’s a general problem, so they fix it.

What’s more is that governments use biopolitical statistics to influence our behaviour. Yes, it’s true. And no they are not manipulating our every decision. But they are feeding us grandiosely large statistics like mortality rates so that we invest in health care. They paint university degrees as tickets for high paying jobs, success, and happiness. They emphasize stats about the likelihood of accidents so that we invest in car insurance. Would so many of us pay thousands of dollars worth of insurance each year if we didn’t hear about how likely it was to get in a car accident? I’d say not.

That is the power of biopolitics.

So, what’s my point? Are we all just doing what we’re told to, in a society where our contribution to it is manipulated from us? And the summation of each citizen’s contributions creates a stable economy so that our government can function? Is our sole purpose, in their eyes, to be tax paying citizens? Foucault would say yes. Most anti-institutionalists, and countless others, would agree. And, contrarily, lots would disagree.

I would say that right now, yeah that’s probably the case. But there’s good news. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

There’s a social shift occurring. It’s becoming more evident as Generation Y graduates from college and doesn’t immediately integrate into the corporate world. We’re refusing more and more to become cogs in the machine. We’re traveling more. We’re creating new innovative jobs that we’ve never seen before. Industry as a career is fading into the generation behind us. Sustainability is a Major at University.

These are all examples of this social revolution.

Between the three children in my family, born to a businessman and a lawyer, we have three picturesque examples of Generation Y. A Canadian Athlete, who is choosing to set his sights on making a career out of sailing (check out his website here http://matthewrydersailing.com). A video game design major, who is as passionate about video games the way most people are passionate about chocolate or coffee. And a creative writing major, who is going to join the career path of the thousands of “starving writers.” None of us chose traditional careers. Each of us pursued what we were most passionate about despite the challenges we will undoubtedly face because of it.

But why should we have done any differently?

To say we know what we’re doing is a laughable misconception. We haven’t figured out how this new social attitude will fit into the world over the next fifty or so years. We’re transitioning away from what we know. We’re focusing more on what we care about. And we care less about money. We really do.

Generation Y would rather live frugally than work a 9-5 cubical job. It’s just what we want out of life. We’re focusing less on society as a whole; we’re ascribing less importance on our industrial or economical contribution. We care as much about our community as the youth always have, but we’re valuing less the monetary aspects of it.

To be clear, we’re not shifting backwards to focus on the individual again. We’re evolving into placing importance somewhere entirely new. Passion and experience. Humanity has now gone from emphasizing the individual, to focusing on us as a species, to caring about our relationship with the world, and its relationship to us. We want to get more out of life than financial stability. We want to travel because it’s interesting. We want to work towards something amazing because we’re passionate about it.

This social revolution is a shift beyond biopolitics. It’s a movement away from the institution as sovereign. It’s an evolution away being a cog in the outdated machine. We are our own machines. And our cogs are what we choose to invest our time in, not our money.

I’m not going to pretend we understand it all. I’m not to say we’re going to get it right. But we’re going to do what we love, and try to make that work.

I read a definition once of the term ‘total freedom.’ I’m not one for having sayings on my wall, or living with specific static phrases in mind. I love quotes and I love words (a lot) which may seem quite obvious. But I like the ones that inhabit my mental spaces to constantly be evolving. I like progression from one maxim to the next. I value the words I’ve loved in the past, but I’m always looking for new ones to furnish the insides of my mind. They need to represent the changes I’ve made within myself.

Having said that, there is a definition that has stuck with me for a very long time in my short life. It goes as follows: total freedom is a state in which awareness exists, free from the impositions of socializations and syntax.

It’s defining the concept of absolute, total, freedom. And it’s a beautiful concept if you think about it. Beautiful in it’s simplicity. An absolute freedom from Everything. Period.

This extends to the restrictions and complexity of society and life; even life in its simplest definition. There would be no social expectations, no pressure or stress for productivity from yourself, or from the judgments of others. Nothing needed from you.

Nothing needed from you. There would be no restrictions, but maybe no incentive either. It’s a state of impossibility, and it perhaps begets difficulties in what that state would then look like, and what one would do within it. Maybe people would simply do nothing. If you don’t have to work for something, i.e., freedom, would you? And I mean freedom in any sense, freedom of financial flexibility, or through achieving opportunities whether that be through applications, hard work, or by any sort. I guess barriers push against people so that people can push against them. Maybe barriers are the key to progress.

But maybe people would feel that they could achieve more without socialization, expectation, and societal syntax (in that society outlines a specific set of rules and guidelines that we use to arrange ourselves and our lives within the greater picture of community). Maybe a state of inhibition would enable so many of us to accomplish more, create more, and be more than what we let ourselves be, or are repressed into being, within those implications. Imagine the possibilities of total freedom.

Regardless of which it would mean, and what that would mean, the magnitude of a state of total freedom would be infinite. And that is a beautiful concept.

This challenges social judgment, stigmatism, perceptions of predetermined beauty and health, affects of the media, and stereotyping.

It supports the rights of the individual, freedom of expression, pride, individual opinion and freedom, and diversity.

Among other things!

Know your opinions and be consistent. Cleverly done and very important 🙂

Project Naked

This is one of the reasons I love facebook and can’t quite give it up because I come across amazing things like this from the various pages I follow. This is the amazing work by Carol Rossetti, so simple yet so powerful! I wanted to share on the blog because I felt it so fitting and something a lot of woman will relate to. Also the illustrations are just too KICK ASS not to share.

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Posted with permission. Please go to http://https://www.behance.net/carolrossetti to see more of her amazing work!

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