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Fear of Social Conscience

Have you noticed how some of your relatives and friends get irritated when you mention a social issue that is not directly related to them?

Perhaps you are enjoying a good cup of coffee and a donut as you share 'what's up', and you blurt something about the threat to wild salmon, Neo Nazis in Charlottesville, or some other issue. And suddenly everything goes quiet while someone around that table gives you the evil eye.

Have you noticed in groups how some hate those who are sensitized to issues of injustice? One or two members of a board or club will target an anti-racist, a feminist, or environmentalist, who speaks up? Or mobbing at a University - how often is the target a person who has expressed a desire for social justice?

At dinner parties have you noticed if anyone mentions equal pay, equal respect, violence toward a specific group - they are quickly interrupted and the subject changed?

Why is this? Is it because we want to feel safe, that the world is just, and our co-workers and friends are ethical and have a good conscience? Or is it that any issue of injustice in our society strikes a tone of moral superiority? Or that most of us don't want to be reminded of prejudice or systemic violence when we are having fun?

Is there a flaming red flag around the aura of a person who makes it clear they are aware of the larger society? A sub conscious understanding that this person does not base their worth on getting your approval?

Is there a time and place for difficult conversations other than social gatherings? Is the common gap in all social intercourse a matter of privilege?

Stephen Metcalf wrote in The Guardian about how neoliberalism has swallowed up the world along with all the beating hearts and minds within.  "Peer through the lens of neoliberalism and you see more clearly how the political thinkers most admired by Thatcher and Reagan helped shape the ideal of society as a kind of universal market".  Social reality since then, says Metcalf,  has been reordered where the blood coursing through our veins means nothing other than the price the market will give it.

We have been dismissed. Art, science, intellect, music, love and family means nothing if they can't make a profit for someone.  We have swallowed this reasoning to the extent that any reminder of society as community, kindness, inalienable rights and duties, is almost an admittance of our gullibility over the last forty years. 

We've been had and had bad.


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Where does "Greatness" come from? The imagination? Facts? Confidence? A willing suspension of disbelief in a slogan that makes us happy? A capacity to judge well? An ability to observe and find solutions that benefit most if not all? Taking responsibility for the community? A masters degree from Oxford or Yale?

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