28.8.14

THE DOWN-SIDE OF ACCEPTANCE?

Leon Wolf, "A Society Without Standards."
I know a lot of parents are concerned about sex, drugs, and violent themes in music. There’s definitely something to that. Personally, I find that a lot of that is really just playing off the rebellion inherent in adolescence which tends to fade away as people grow up, get married, and have kids of their own. On the other hand, I find this ridiculous leveling attitude [non-judgementalism] to be infinitely more corrosive to a well-ordered society – this notion that there is no such thing as good or bad in terms of anything, whether it be appearance, behavior, personality, or achievement. There is only different and equally good. And while promiscuity, drugs, and violent culture are definitely dangerous and shouldn’t be encouraged especially in young people, they tend to be largely (albeit not entirely) transient dangers in the grand scheme of life. The effacement of the ideal of a successful and productive member of society is a much more permanent danger, because this ideal is what ultimately succeeds in pulling most people out of the wasteful rebellions of their youth, at least eventually. If that ideal dies, much of society’s ability to ensure order through the enforcement of social norms dies with it, and order must increasingly be enforced instead by an overbearing and increasingly well-armed state. The experience of Ferguson cries out against this as a viable solution.
Perhaps that's a jeremiad, perhaps there are six social science dissertation topics buried therein.
Marching to the beat of your own drummer, at least to a certain extent, is a uniquely American ideal, and one that largely gave birth to our nation and our national identity. However, there is a difference between channeling inventiveness and even eccentricity into productive living and the celebration, as in the song above, of total indifference towards personal improvement or meaningful contribution to society. Maybe instead of saying that we should hide the things we don’t like about ourselves, we could say that we can make at least an effort to change those things about ourselves? Loudly telling people to just be happy with the results of their bad personal choices and expecting society to find you equally likeable/attractive/charming no matter what your personal attributes are is no kind of answer at all.
There's yet another possibility. If there are no standards, can any kind of behavior truly be transgressive?

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