The 21st century that we live in is remarkably different than the one before that we left 15 years ago. The world has become more interconnected, it’s easier to find information, and with this it’s also easier to disseminate information. This is a great achievement and it allows anyone the power to reach an audience. We live in a great modern world and by all accounts we’ve made a great deal of progress. Compared to 200 years ago during the height of the industrial revolution life spans are longer, we live in comfort, and we exert much more control over the world.
While great strides of progress have been made we must remember to be observant of the world and societal changes around us. We must be aware that the very nature of our human existence is under threat. Since the industrial revolution (or perhaps the time period in which the United States Constitution was created) we have slowly been creating an abstract object known as the individual. While initially focused on ensuring the rights of the human being, these were rights that ensured the citizen would not be oppressed by the government or by other citizens. The idea of individualistic rights was expanded in the latter half of the 20th century. This was largely lead by the abstraction of the individual from the human being. The right to fairness has limited how much successful entrepreneurs take home. The right to tolerance has trampled on religious liberty. And, the right to not be offended has trampled on the right of free speech. While these rights are certainly created with noble intentions they take us further away from the classical definition of a human being.
These false rights will not outright end human society on their own, those who enforce and entrench them will accomplish that. Our educational institutions have slowly been reformed over the last 60 years to to teach these concepts to our children. Students in elementary school now learn about how to speak with minorities in order to avoid accidental offence. Meanwhile high school and university students are exposed to free speech zones and trigger warnings (a warning given when a piece of content could offend). The educational institutions have exposed our students (especially since the turn of the century) to fairness over innovation, tolerance over all, and ultimately one point of view in order to not offend. This is not doing human society any favours and is contrary to the century old tradition of schools and universities.
While the media was the primary source of news and information dissemination in the 20th century there’s no reason it should be trusted today. It is no longer the case that the media reports without bias and agenda. This agenda is lockstep in sync with the modern education agenda outlined previously, to further the creation of an abstract individual which unintentionally or not stifles liberty. Whether the agenda comes from the corporate overlords who own the media institutions or the journalists personal points of view is up for debate. The question as to what role the media should play should be simply answered by having the media act as a simple arbiter of fact.
For years we have been taught to fight against tyranny but when critical societal institutions are not objective and seek to promote agendas we are in peril as a society. The only defence aside from replacing or reforming these institutions is to ensure that everyone has an objective and inquisitive mind. Normally we rely on the education system to each the power of inquiry but that is also in doubt today. What can we do? Parents and community leaders can challenge children and adolescents to be inquisitive and thoughtful about controversial subjects. While in the past we could rely on the nightly news to inform us about the days events with a relative degree of accuracy, that is no longer the case. There is no excuse today to be uneducated about any major issue of concern. Combined with an objective mindset the internet provides the perfect platform for self education in order to combat an establishment that has become hostile to human society.
Thus far I have spoken to you about hypotheticals and the issues with our institutions (education and media) the naive world view that these organizations take has cost thousands of lives already. Where you ask? In the Middle East, the perpetrator of course is ISIL. To date ISIL has killed upwards of 6,500 people and displaced upwards of 10 million Syrians and Iraqis combined. ISIL is brutal, anyone who does not subscribe to their view of Islam is executed by the most heinous methods not seen for centuries. For anyone paying attention the similarities to the 1930s and 40s in Europe under the Nazi regime are eerily similar. The world acted decisively in the 1940s but is unable to today.
As stated previously, we live in a world where the aim of educational and media institutions is to not harm or offend citizens rather than offering the facts behind world affairs. Once again, educational institutions teach the practice of no offence while the media organizations will gladly follow suit in white washing the news of the day. ISIL is often referred to by the media as a “militant group” rather than what they actually are, a barbaric jihadist movement that is a threat to our human society. The global jihadist threat should be the primary concern of the media but instead their reporting on the matter is the actual threat to society; a threat that gone unchecked will create a group of individuals unphased by a genocide a world away.
While ISIL is indeed barbaric there are other casualties caused by the abstraction of the human being into the individual. When businesses are pilloried for refusing to bake a cake for a same sex marriage we are seeing a casualty of this abstraction. When university students drown out a guest speaker due to simply having differing views we are once again seeing another casualty of the abstraction of the human being. When the nightly news uses politically correct terms that white wash news we are once again witnessing a casualty of abstraction but in addition we are also enforcing this abstraction since the media is a pillar of society whose voice carries weight. Finally, when the educational system teaches that feelings are more important over facts we end up with a causal loop that leads to further abstraction and the weakening of the human kind.
Basic human nature is one of survival, it’s been ingrained in our species since the very beginning. Looking back thousands of years, what if I was unable to find sustenance for the week? I’d die. Human brains are wired to respond to a “fight or flight” response in order to aid survival in dangerous situations. The human instinct for survival whether our own, our family, or our fellow human kind is undeniably strong. While some abstractions are necessary to ensure our basic rights, beyond that there should be no abstraction of the human being. Abstraction is a force to be used for the removal of rights, intentional or not. Since the advent of the industrial revolution and picking up speed in the 1950s we have been abstracting away the human being in order to create what has become known as the individual.
This fight, for the human being, is something that everyone should at the very least be concerned about. The threat of course can be mitigated in our own lives by maintaining an objective mind. However, this doesn’t stop the educational, media, and other cultural institutions from pursuing the idea of creating further definitions of the individual that move us further away from the core of what a human being is. The human being has to be at the forefront of our educational, media, and political institutions. It currently is not, I ask going forward that everyone going forward be a little more human and a little less individualistic.