Society Tells Me So

Society. What does that mean to you? What responsibilities does it have to you? You to it? These questions are the fundamental origin of all of the things we are asking ourselves right now; gun control, the size of government, social services, taxes, defense spending, unions, etc. These separate, individual issues are all very important, to differing degrees to each of us, that can be generally answered by understanding how you feel about society itself.

“Does society owe you anything”, or conversely, “what do you owe society” are two questions that, when answered, will frame how you answer all of the questions already listed. Different labels that we have created (Liberals, Conservatives, Libertarians, etc.) are used to aggregate your beliefs about society but they are rarely accurate in the whole as we all have differing degrees of belief based on the issue at hand…regardless that the issue is merely a facet of our societal loyalties…but knowing your overarching belief system does partially direct you toward a specific set of characteristics, or labels.
If you believe that society has an obligation to you (and everyone else) to make sure that you are protected and kept reasonably safe then gun control is likely high on your list of concerns. If, on the other hand, you believe it’s not society’s responsibility to keep you safe, that you as an individual are solely responsible for that safety, gun control is probably way down on your list of things to worry about.

Similar contrasts and comparison questions can be asked for the size of government, social services, taxes, defense spending, unions, etc. and we would see similar results. Those that believe that society has a responsibility, or duty, versus those that believe individuals have that reciprocal responsibility/duty will become quite clear when the pertinent question is asked.

There is no right and wrong answer, by the way, only majorities and minorities (i.e. see the last election for an example) and the tacit understanding that majorities hold sway but that (at least in the US) systems are in place to at least nominally protect the interests of the minority.

Think about how you feel about society the next time you find yourself in a debate over a divisive issue (like gun control) and frame your response according to those beliefs instead of according to the direct issue. I believe that you will start to find that you share many of the same ideals, you just differ on how those ideals are carried out or dealt with.

Believe. Go. Do.


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