Social Influences

Nov 1, 2013 by

You have control over your own gas and brakes, you cannot let their actions alter your speed.

Today, it is a common belief among people that our society is responsible for causing certain events to occur.  Hollywood is causing people to lose morals.  My parents believed something, so I will believe it too.  Video games cause violence.  The list goes on and on about how society is the one influencing our actions.  The truth is, however, that our actions are our own fault, we cannot lay the blame on anyone other than ourselves, no matter how much pressure is made.

As a rational human being, we are able to choose what course of action we take.  However, some people believe that society is an entity so powerful, so all consuming in the amount of influence it exerts, that there is no way for us to even will to break away from the mold.  The interests you have are because society has inlaid them into you.  However, let us follow this train of thought to its end result.  If society caused you to think in such and such way, and society is just a make up of people, either people possess free will or we are influenced by nature.  For Society cannot influence without us influencing it.  Yet, our influence has to have a source.  The only two entities that can be claimed to influence us other than society are our own reason and free will, or nature.  If nature is the source of our actions, desires, and beliefs, than our beliefs are based on the irrational.  Yet, if our beliefs are based on the irrational, than none of our beliefs are true.  Thus, we have no reason for believing our beliefs to be based on nature.  This belief that our wills are based on nature is a self-defeating argument, for it can never be a rational belief for us to hold, true or not.  In my opinion, this means that it is not worth examining without clear evidence that it is the case.  Thus, our influences originate from free will.

However, this does not mean that society does not exert a supreme amount of influence, built up by millions of people conforming to its ideals and trying to spread them.  This influence is massive.  However, this influence is not something which forces its way into your mind.  You still have free will.  You still are a rational creature.  You still possess reason.  You can choose whether or not to allow this influence to affect you or not.  Thus, by the mere ability to discern information on your own and to choose your own course of action, a responsibility arises.  This is the responsibility to seek the information you need to know, not the information society wants you to know.  This is the responsibility to act according to what is true, not according to what society wants you to do.  As the cartoon illustrates, society can be like a hundred speeding cars, scaring you into traveling faster and faster and faster.  However, the car is in your control.  You can always slow down.  You can always do what is right.  If the other cars hit you, if they curse at you, if they honk their horns at you; that is their irrationality.  You are only responsible for your actions.  And, in return for your responsibility, you can obtain true freedom.  For, freedom only comes when you take control of your own life.  That moment when you reject collectivism in favor of individualism is when you become free.  And, a truly free man is truly happier than a man of society.  For the free man has his own passions that he fulfills while the man of society fulfills the passions of another.

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