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December 21, 2012

Accountability and Consequences…

Filed under: General — Vasilios Theodorakis @ 10:07 am

I believe in social justice. Call me old fashioned, but in spite of our society being overly orientated towards an interpretation of Adam Smith‘s thinking and despite people’s natural orientation to not give a dam about anyone other than themselves (see previous post), the structure of society should have mechanisms in place to protect the vulnerable and the weak. The economic rationalists who currently control all dialogue in Western countries like Australia will of course disagree, after all, their prophet – Smith (in The Wealth Of Nations), set us on a dogmatic path where by individuals are expected to look after themselves, focus on their own acquisition of capital/labour and by so doing, unconsciously build a stronger society. (They conveniently ignore that Smith also says, in this same book, that the division of labour will ultimately destroy human beings and make them ignorant and stupid.) Unfortunately, it’s hard to argue with economists at this point in history as their social theory (which appeals to our basic instincts) appears to have worked for over 250 years whereas the supposedly “moral” socialist systems have fallen apart.

Smith’s earlier work (The Theory Of Moral Sentiments) however also pointed out that it is in our nature to empathise with our fellow human being – this work is also ignored by these same economists. Going one step further, what continues to define us as human and separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom, is that we have a conscience and that irrespective of the reasons why people turn their backs on their fellow human beings, that same conscience continues to haunt and trouble our thoughts and emotions. If this facet of human nature continues to burden an individual long enough, the individual breaks and that break can take many different forms – psychological, emotional, physical, social or financial. As a social worker I saw this happen again and again especially to people who “appeared” to have the perfect life. Notice, I’m not even touching on metaphysics here, just our physical existence. The simple fact of human nature is this – to ignore one’s own conscience, is to bring down destruction on one’s own head. It may not happen today, tomorrow, a month from now or even 10 years from now, but it will happen. The burden of social and emotional guilt is just like the hot coals we hear about in certain monotheistic traditions. ;)

So don’t be like me and lose site of this human reality. Though society may “currently” allow all manner of self centred psychopaths to get away with what (on the surface) appears (to the lay) as criminal activity – i.e. the traumatising and robbing of the innocent; though society is no longer carrying its share of the burden and protecting the weak and the vulnerable, and though it may appear that some people are not accountable and no consequences are brought against them by the legal system, you need to trust that their internal burden of guilt will ultimately destroy their lives. The sad part is that the victims of the self centred, sometimes don’t live to see the consequences of what the the perpetrator’s internal conscience can do. The fortunate thing for society (as a whole) however, is that we continue to have the “observers” amongst us, and their documentation of the internal consequences on the self centred and evil will always give us hope. As long as we take the time to read what the scribes, prophets and poets have written, not all is lost for social justice nor for humanity.

Cheers – Vasilios Theodorakis – December 2012
First Draft – 9am 12/12/2012

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