Archives for posts with tag: social construct

I’ll start by stating that nothing becomes fact before somebody calling it so!

Doesn’t make any sense?
It’s not enough?
OK…

So ‘blue’ had become a fact only after people had invented a word for it…
It had existed before hand but we hadn’t noticed it – hadn’t spoken about it, more exactly, until we had a word for it. Until we had learned how to ‘measure’ it…

But what is a ‘fact’?
Something which is ‘real’?
And how do you determine if something is ‘real’ or not?
It either has ‘measurable consequences’ or your experience about it has been confirmed by somebody else.
A coffee table becomes a fact in the dark after you hit it with your shin and a meteorite ceases being a illusion the moment your hubby confirms he has also seen it.
No so complicated, was it?

‘But what about a propaganda movie? It that real? Can you consider it to be a fact?’

Excellent question, Watson!

The movie itself is real alright! A fact, indeed.
The fact that not everything it pretends to be real is true… is also a fact!
Savvy?

In fact, there are more facts waiting to be discovered than actual ‘happenings’.

Take the propaganda movie.
It has consequences.
Some people believe in its message. And act accordingly. Each of those actions becoming facts on their own.
Other people smell the rat hiding behind the screen. And act accordingly. Each of those actions being facts on their own.
The fact that those exposed to the same message more often than not chose to respond differently is a strong suggestion that facts – and reality itself, are not so straightforward as we’d like them to be.
As straightforward as most spin doctors pretend them to be…

‘You’ve been jabbering for sometime now but you haven’t yet come forward. What was the meaning of that ‘elusive’ title of yours?’

Liberty.
What is it?
A fact? A natural fact? Something which was given to us? Our natural status? Something others want to steal from us?
Something we’ve built/discovered together?
Or an ideal we’ll never be able to fulfill?

How about all three at the same time?

‘Are you nuts?’

A ball – a foot-ball, for example, has a certain degree of freedom. Put it on a table and it may roll in any direction it may choose. But will ‘never’ be able to fall through the table nor start to fly. ‘On it’s own’…
A helium balloon has another kind of freedom. If it’s tied down with a string it has the freedom to oscillate. If it’s ‘free’ it has the freedom to go up. For as long as it manages to hold on on enough helium, but that’s another thing. Another fact, if you will…

A society is free only if its members respect and defend, collectively, their freedoms. Their individual freedom and their collective freedom. For instance, Russia is a free country but its citizens are not as free as their neighbors, the Fins.
The moment Hong Kong went back to China, the city was no longer as free as it used to be as a British dominion. Yet its citizens have continued to be far freer than the rest of the Chinese citizens. For a while…..

Somethings – freedom, for instance, cannot be anything more than people think about them.

Others can.
Until people had invented X-rays, nobody could know how big were the roots of any given tooth.
Until Robert K. Merton had put together a more detailed analysis of it, the law of the unintended consequences was something people intuitively knew it was ‘real’ but nobody was fully aware of its real depth. Now, most of us agree that that depth is unfathomable. Yet some people still behave as if things were under control… Under their control…

Freedom, and all other rights we have enjoyed for sometime now, is only as wide – and only as deep, as we make it to be. As we agree among ourselves to make it.
For all of us!

Collective freedom as a fact.
In the sense that the freer communities have had a consistently bigger survivability rate than the more authoritarian regimes.
Ancient Athens had been able to navigate through more ‘dire straights’ than its arch-enemy, Sparta.
The Roman Empire has been established as a democracy, thrived as one for a while then failed abysmally as an autocracy.
Yes, the Egyptian empire did survive for millennia… only it had been ruled, succeedingly, by 33 dynasties. Practically, there had been 33 regimes, not one… And since there had been some 3100 years between its unification and it being incorporated into the Roman Empire… an average of 100 years per political regime cannot be branded as a real success… Specially in the early years, when the competition was…

A quick jump to the XX-th century will suggest the very same thing. All major wars – WWI, WWII and the Cold one, had been won by the freer societies.

So collective freedom, or lack thereof, has consequences. Is a fact.

On the other hand, freedom – the real version, the one that works, cannot be had/enjoyed but in a social context.
Nobody can be free on their own.
The emperors of yore – and the dictators of today, have been under the impression – illusion, more likely, that they could do whatever they pleased. That they were free. So free that they never hesitated to trample the freedom of their subjects. Only that freedom never lasted for long… it was soon replaced by the liberty of somebody else… And all these successive liberties have been exerted at the expense of those of everybody else.

Hence liberty, individual as well as collective, is not only a fact. It’s also a social construct.

What about the ‘elusive ideal’?

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Oops!
The only reasonable way to read this is ‘if you want to be free, you need to think straight’.
To find out what’s keeping you down and how to free yourself in a sustainable way.
How to free yourself in a manner which will add to the freedom of all others!

Cause if your increased freedom means the debasement of your erstwhile peers… things don’t look right…

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As much as I love writing, I do have to eat.
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Earning money takes time.
If you’d like me to write more, and on a more regular basis, hit the button.
Your contribution will be appreciated!

As much as I love writing, I do have to eat.
And to provide for my family.
Earning money takes time.
If you’d like me to write more, and on a more regular basis, hit the button.
Your contribution will be appreciated!

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For subjects to become free, they must first remain alive.
As soon as individuals die, whatever freedom they might have enjoyed vanishes.

Individual liberty is a matter of degree.
No matter what any of us might do, none of us – well, almost, will ever escape gravity. We are all pulled towards the center of the Earth and this is how things should be. Otherwise… can you really imagine us drifting freely through the Universe and still being alive?
There are some constraints we might escape for a while. While gravity stays with us forever, we need to breathe only once every second or so. If needed, some of us can go without air for almost five minutes. Most of us can go without water for days and without food for a couple of weeks.
Without friends… is more complicated.
My real point being that individuals will start considering freedom, in earnest, only after reaching Maslow’s self-actualization stage. Until then we remain subjects. Subjected to our needs.

Liberty, as a function, is a social matter.
According to Berger and Luckmann, ‘reality’ is a social construct.
Going one step further, we realize that freedom – like money, is also a social construct.
Something we all contribute to. Help building it. Or tear it apart by negligence/carelessness.
Help building it by encouraging others to become free. As in helping them to lead a decent enough life. For freedom to happen, the society – as a whole, must remain functional enough for each of its members to have the opportunity to reach the self-actualization stage.

We must constantly remember that each time somebody puts our lives in danger that somebody attempts to hurt our freedom.
Every action which ultimately reduces the opportunities for each of us to reach the self-actualization stage – or to remain there, is hurting the liberty of our entire society.

Human Nature as a social construct

Now, that some doctors are not only able but also willing to perform sex/life changing surgery, the subject has spawned a rather hot debate.

The ‘inputs’ being ‘sex’, ‘gender’ and ‘how each of us feels about it’.

Feels about what?

Well… this is the tricky part.
The what of the matter isn’t so simple…

There are so many things that might be felt here…

How each of us feels about the sex they have been born with.
How each of us feels about the gender role assigned to their particular sex by the particular culture into which they have been born.
How each of us feels about those who have enough courage/money to assume another gender/change their sex.

Please note that while neither the society nor the individuals have anything to do with the birth sex, both the society and the individuals are instrumental in shaping all those feelings.

Since sex/gender is too ‘hot’ right now, let me take a parallel road.

Many of my friends are glad when I invite them to dinner. To a home cooked dinner.
Their appreciation has driven me to improve my cooking skills, over time.
Yet in my culture, men are not supposed to cook – if they are not professionals, of course.
Which I’m not.
Yet very few people, if any at all, see anything strange here.
That being the social construct part.
On the other hand, cooking implies certain individual characteristics. For instance, I find it harder when my nose is running. I have to do it ‘mechanically’. It also demands a lot of patience and the ability to plan in advance. Not to mention the fact that one needs both hands.
My point being that cooking, and gender, is based on a certain physical configuration – both hands, a working nose – a certain state of mind AND a lot of study/social conditioning.

My real point being that every ‘social construct’ is based on ‘nature’.
Just as no builder will ever be able to build anything without ‘bricks’, no society will ever be able to build anything out of nothing.
And just as all builders have to adapt their plans to what they have at their disposal, all social constructs will be limited by ‘human nature’ – how ever adaptable and ingenuous it might be.

Now it’s the moment to remind you that other cultures have dealt differently with this matters. Driven by different kinds of necessity.

“It began hundreds of years ago, deep in the Albanian Alps—an unusual tradition where women, with limited options in life, took the oath of the burrnesha. A pledge to live as a man. To dress like a man, to work like a man, to assume the burdens and the liberties of a man. But these freedoms came with a price: The burrneshas also made a pledge of lifelong celibacy. Today these sworn virgins live on, but their numbers have dwindled. Many Albanians don’t even know they exist. What happens when the society that created you no longer needs you? And how do you live in the meantime?”

 

“In Samoa, gender identity is largely based on a person’s role in the family and if one family has numerous sons and no daughters, it’s not uncommon to raise one of the boys as a girl.

In fact, being a Fa’afaine or the practice of males adopting female gender roles and the attributes traditionally associated with women is deeply embedded in much of Polynesia.”

Confused?

You’re not alone…

“Some Polynesian elders believe there are boys born with the “Fa’afafine spirit,” while others say it can be nurtured.”