"Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties. Truth was never put to the worse in a free and open encounter..."
~ Milton
Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
~Benjamin Franklin

Reading:
A Fistful of Euros
Ahistoricality
Andrew Tobias
Angry Liberal
Archy
Avedon Carol
Back to Iraq
Bad Attitudes
Bark Bark Woof Woof
BlogAfrica
Cliopatria
Common Dreams
Counterterrorism Blog
Cursor
Daniel Drezner
Eric Alterman
European Democracy
Fablog
Hellblazer
Hugo Schwyzer
Hullabaloo
In The Dark
Informed Comment
Jesus' General
Madelaine Kane
Mahablog
Mother Jones
Obsidian Wings
Off the Kuff
Opinions You Should Have
Orcinus
Pacific Views
Pen-Elayne
Political Animal
Prometheus 6
StoutDemBlog
Talking Points Memo
TalkLeft
TBOGG
The American Street
The Common Ills
The Washington Note
War and Piece

Book Reviews
The Emerging Democratic Majority (Judis & Teixeira)
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them (Franken)
Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot (Franken)
The True Believer (Hoffer)
Still Being Bushwhacked

All Book Reviews
Race, Gender, and Sexuality
You Got My Support. But.
Even Endangered Penguins Do It
Jesus Wept
Not Quite Right (with caveats)
Unforeseen Racism?

All Race, Gender, and Sexuality
Campaigns and Voting
killmenow
Not News. Olds. And Truths.
November 4, 2008
Anyone?
Pay Attention

All Campaigns and Voting
Lecture Circuit
It Was 40 Years Ago Today
July 2, 1964
Pledge
May 14-15, 1970
The Erotica of Bare Knees

All Lecture Circuit
Media
The Liberal Media, At It Again
Fairly UNbalanced
P.S.
What's this?
OHMIGOD

All Media
Big Brother
Shoulda' Guessed
Where did my country go?
You know what you never thought you'd read?
Not in his name
Sleight of Hand

All Big Brother
World O'Blog
It's Vocabulary Time!
They wrote it
Mighty-fine blogging
Other People Said....
Phillipines

All World O'Blog
Aimless Ranting
So, I'm thinking with half my brain
Do You Know Peter?
Long, Little Privacy Rant
My Takeaway
If I Had It To Do Over Again

All Aimless Ranting
Archives
November 24, 2013 - November 30, 2013
November 03, 2013 - November 09, 2013
December 09, 2012 - December 15, 2012
October 07, 2012 - October 13, 2012
May 06, 2012 - May 12, 2012

All Weekly Archives


Electioneering
Open Secrets
Political Wire Exit Polls
Politics1
Polling Report

Information
American Research Group
Center for Democracy and Technology
Center for Public Integrity
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Congressional Report Cards
Death Row Roll Call
DebtChannel.org
Democracy Now
Economic Policy Institute
FairVote Colorado
Foreign Policy In Focus
Global Exchange
Human Rights Watch
Independent Judiciary
Inequality
Institute on Money in State Politics
Institute for Public Accuracy
JobWatch
Lying in ponds
Media Reform
Media Transparency
Move On
One World
Open Democracy
Pew Research Center
Project Censored
Public Citizen Health Research Group
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
Take Back The Media
The Urban Institute
WHO Outbreak News

Connections
XML & RDF
Peevish for PDA



Blog Directory


Search








Credits
Powered by Movable Type

Site Design by Sekimori





All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

November 07, 2013
So, I'm thinking with half my brain

If you lean back and squint just right, recent developments in society worldwide almost seem to form a pattern.

It's like--the human race is splitting into two different species. Homo mos maiorum is linear, cautious, and has their mind fixed on what they might find for dinner. Much as our species (and others) have been throughout the millennia. They seem--not so much unwilling as unable to grasp change in their environment. (I'm not talking about painting the living room blue--I'm talking social events and cultural shifts.)

Large-scale changes in their environment freak them out disproportionately. They have their place in the world and are only comfortable when that place and the other places that help to define theirs, remain constant. They know their role, they know what's expected of them, and they have a fundamental understanding of how to get to their goals. They resent being made to think about these things--and are certainly not prepared to rethink them every couple of years--or every few months. More then resenting it, they seem to lack the perceptual framework that allows them to change.

This could be set off against, for want of a better phrase, Homo ad astra who not only accept change but welcome it--finds it invigorating and exciting and is always willing to try to adapt and look for new possibilities. When society undergoes a sea-change around them, they find it interesting, not threatening. These are the people who agitate for change when they think they perceive a change that could be for the better. (Admittedly, they don't always think that deeply. They have the insatiable curiosity of the elephant's child and are generally willing to try something and discard it five minutes later if it doesn't turn out to be an improvement.)

It's not an age thing. I'm elderly (okay, maybe not, but I just had a birthday and I have wrinkles in my neck!), let's say, "not young any more," and I'm certainly not adverse to change. I know people ten or fifteen years younger than I am who are still freaking out about not living in the world their grandparents knew.

Is it a class split? I know people who come from families of comparative wealth who are Homo mos maiorum not because they are worried about finding dinner but because abundance in their youth sheltered them from the necessity of learning to adapt or, indeed, spared them any sense of what it might mean to struggle.* They're simply not prepared for change because they were raised with the kind of day-after-day stability that wealth can provide.

I don't think wealth is a factor, though. At the other end of the social spectrum are the Have-nothings who cling just as tightly to "how things are" for fear that any change will cause them to lose what little security (whether it's social, mental, or economic) they already have.** More than that, they think they understand their place in the world and (whether or not they like that place) can't deal with the idea of that "place" changing.

It's not education. I know people with and without higher education, I've known people who struggled and failed to get through the basic K-12 education the US offers, and all of these groups contain both Homo mos maiorum and Homo ad astra types.

Is it a personality split? Maybe those who are "people-people" are much less comfortable with change--maybe because their "people skills" are founded on their perception of a class/social role structure that is, these days, always in flux? But, no. Because not all of my people-person acquaintances are that way. Some of them adopt change with enthusiasm--treating it as a new way to connect with other people.

It's not a leader-follower thing. I'm not a leader, not by any stretch of the imagination. I'm also not a follower. (That is, I don't follow if someone isn't leading somewhere I want to be.) But I'm--adaptable, when it comes to social/environmental change. So, it's not that Homo ad astra are leaders and Homo mos maiorum are followers. The leader/not leader quality is independent of the two types. We all know that, across society, there are "leaders" who are trying to "lead" people backwards to some idealized version of yesterday. Or at least to "lead" people into freezing the world today until they've all had a chance to get comfortable with it all.***

Meanwhile, today's Homo ad astra are impatiently shaking off tradition and custom, rolling their eyes at the limitations of the past, and trying on new possibilities with the enthusiasm of a kid in a costume store.

Is the divide--the chasm between these two long-standing populations really getting deeper or is the pace of change in contemporary society becoming so fast that these differences are simply highlighted more than ever before?

I have no answers. I'm just avoiding productive work at the moment. And I probably should have read back through this more thoroughly before making it public, but I console myself with the realization that one one reads entries on a long-dormant blog.


________________

* Some of these scions of wealthy families cannot use email. They are not comfortable with technology and are essentially computer-illiterate.

**Maybe it's perceptual. My perception, I mean. Because you couldn't have much less than these Ethiopian children and their families (and here), but something brand-new and unexplored came to them as a fascinating game, not a thing to fear. In fact, they were fearless.

*** My mind keeps floating to the image of the people who settled the planet's frontiers. There's a section of US society these days who like to compare themselves to those "pioneers" and who, in some cases, use pioneer life & society as the measure of how we should be living today.^ (Indoor plumbing aside, one presumes.) This amuses me--because it's inevitably Homo mos maiorum holding the pioneers up as role models for society--but any thought at all will tell you that those pioneers had to be Homo ad astra.

^ (Seriously? Is that what it takes? 200-300 years, and then Homo mos maiorum is ready to accept that where Homo ad astra went was a good place to be?)

Posted by AnneZook at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)