I love that article above for so many reasons. As I’m working away on my studies to get a graduate degree, I’ve also come across some ideas that flashed through my mind a minute ago. I was reading a fellow classmate’s Social Studies lesson plan about the Mayans and had many thoughts which then related to the article above that I saw on Facebook.
First, I think there are advantages in living in smaller villages or communities back in the day. Instead of everything being global or national, every village or organization had to be self-reliant and self-contained. This means all of their food, water, clothing, resources, jobs, medicine etc. had to come from their own means. Obviously, in this case there will be a diversity of roles for each member such as hunter, artist, medicine man, clergyman etc. With the diversity of roles, then there is value in each person’s innate talent and gift. Surely, the politician or leader would be valued as much as the cooks as much as the teachers or blacksmith or warrior or clergyman.
To add, there was a place for most members including visionaries, artists, musicians, and other roles that are seen as less important in today’s modern society. I could be wrong, but it feels like many of the responsibilities, duties, and job roles in our modern urban/suburban society are rather cookie cutter. You can be poor and work menial jobs and retail, or you could get an education and work in higher paid, more fulfilling, and skilled labor. Regardless of what you do, we are all working more than half of our waking time, and for what purpose? Are we doing this just to be able to own a small plot of land and house, have some food, and be able to take one or two trips a year? Also, is all this work simply to keep a large society and government functional – one that basically uses our hard work and resources to do things like go to war with other countries that we don’t know or try to take as much as we can. We’re working for a country that keeps accumulating debt and continuing to having a bigger gulf between rich and poor? A small tangent, and why do we value math, science, and engineering so much? I remember reading back in college how the emphasis on the “concrete” subjects is emphasized to produce a more efficient war machine in World War II. This means putting philosophy, literature, art, music, drama etc. on the back burner – but where does expression, peace, new ideas, creativity, and love stem from? The humanities are surely just as important if not more important.
This brings us back to my talk of small villages and people’s roles: perhaps the division of labor (giving everyone a small job versus how people used to do everything and see the product of their labor) does alienate people and force people to live unimaginative, cookie cutter lives while certain people who don’t fit into the machine are seen as outcasts and deviants: mystics, healers, artists, visionaries, and innovators. In addition, other members that serve society such as social workers, teachers are not valued as much despite being the backbone of the nation. I guess what I’m getting at is that perhaps the lack of differentiation (differing depending on the individual) of roles in society causes certain “issues” to arise such as ADD, learning disabilities, emotional disturbance etc. – they don’t “fit” in with the machine of society and therefore are cast aside a bit. I’m not saying that all societies in the past were perfect and I mean Ancient Greek and Native American as well, but I theorize that they did used to have a broader scope of activities that catered to different individuals and that they valued things beyond the material: money, power, and reputation (maybe those are simply European values or are they a universal for economics?).
Lastly, as a philosopher and aspiring writer, would my ideal society be based purely on economics and hard cash? That based on Social Darwinism there is a “survival of the fittest?” My answer would be “no.” Before there is “food for everyone” (which relies on the paradigm that there will always be needy people), I would like society to have ample “opportunities” for everyone (education, stable living, and creative chances to expand and improve society). I would want to dispense with the “everybody” for themselves mentality and make sure everyone has opportunities first and let society flourish based on everyone’s natural talent. Shit, have I become a Communist? 😀 I mean, maybe Karl Marx is right… maybe some type of Communism (not dictatorship or Communism in its present form but in its greatest ideal as an idea) may develop naturally over time IF compassion and kindness rule over competition and greed.