In my favorite class of this past semester, Social Problems with Prof. Craig Nevins, I learned so much. Through a more alternative style of lecture where as the students were often the ones speaking rather than the professor, I was able to make connections and applications in such a monumental way. One of the many things that left my mind blown when I walked out of Rounds Hall around 1:45pm Tuesdays and Thursdays this past spring was about two differing ideologies, the organic and mechanical solidarity society pressures us to fold into.
Mechanical solidarity, according to the brilliant social scientist and theorist Emile Durkheim, is a social integration of members who all kind of fit the same criteria; the same characteristics, the same common values. Mechanical solidarity is something that basically most working class Americans can identify with, having enough money to get through each week, or even more so, each day. This type of solidarity puts meaning in the meaningless, people who find themselves identifying within this category are working toward the house, the car, the money in general. In mechanical solidarity we are loving things that cannot love us back, tangible items that have no emotions and offer no support emotionally. Examples of mechanical solidarity are most often jobs that require no real talent other than the desire to work and make a salary, whatever that salary may be. We find in sociology that many times minorities fall into this category more often because they feel belittled by our society. Often minorities and others who fall into this characteristic, subconsciously have the understanding that all they will ever amount to is washing dishes or pouring concrete. This is often seen as something defined as “collective conscience” or in other words, a belief that is shared through the majority of workers enabling them to cooperate with no hesitation under a source of power.
Organic solidarity on the other hand is a complete 180 degrees different from mechanical solidarity in which it entails the manifestation of the individuals true strengths. Everyone’s strengths and weaknesses differ from each other yet in a society where only the weaknesses are focused on, a shift in ego’s arise. For example, many minorities, (like I mentioned above) along with women are often suppressed into feeling lesser than others in the work place only based on societies interpretation of them. So when this occurs less quality work is produced due to the matter that our society has strategically placed only a select few in areas where talented work can be accomplished. I’m not trying to place the blame on any set person or group but I would have to think the terrifyingly addicting taste of success that the elite know all too well has had something to do with this matter.
Tell me if I’m wrong, but I think we all have had that kind of malicious taste of success in which we never want to share. This can be in literally any field of life, the best test grade, the strongest plants in your garden, the shiniest car on the block. Again, these all seem fantastic to the superficial world that we take part in daily. But actually anything other than love is fake, we are living and striving for illusions that society has projected. We tend to think that these “wins” that make people “better” than the next are truly important, when in reality it’s just our cynical ego’s taking over. Ego’s are persistent, they never rest even when you commit your mind to compassion. But we must recognize that sustaining our winning trophies aren’t all as important as our society has made it out to be. Why do the people at the top need to have all their pieces of pie? Obviously a theoretical pie but you get the point. I just find it slightly troubling that instead of progressively trying to find ways to create success in the lower classes and minorities, those at the top simply employ them. Yes, I am aware someone has to do these sometimes “unwanted” jobs, and unfortunately society has structured everything so that the people who are looked at as “lesser”, take part in these unfavorable and dead end professions. The reason I put all those words into quotes is because I don’t believe anyone or thing is better or worse than the next, we all are just different regarding strengths and weaknesses.
Why not instead of continuing to choke the breathes of talent that people in diverse socioeconomic communities and elsewhere breathe, we transform it. Take societies interpretation of these less fortunate individuals and make them out to NOT be the victim. Don’t suggest a job in which they will never progress mentally, suggest a job they think they cannot accomplish, and show them how well they can! I feel that in America in particular, the tools an underprivileged individual requires to reach heightened potential, is incredibly difficult to harness. This is because of the way our society has conditioned people to believe and behave, on both the winning and losing ends. It seems regardless if you are at the top or at the bottom, your perspective of either end is probably equivalent to those residing within each one. What I am trying to say here is that this is entirely incorrect.
Reversing the way our society treats and perceives their neighbors is most certainly not an easy fix, but we all can make the conscious decision to look at the garbage man with the same smile as you would your boss. I have been so incredibly fortunate. I have traveled, vacationed, studied, worn expensive clothes, ate at luxurious restaurants and drank the finest booze I could get my hands on. But none of that would matter at all if I hadn’t taken the time to appreciate all I have been given with very little energy expended by myself. Yeah, I’m a middle class white girl and my mom was a middle class white woman as well and so on and so forth, but each of our designated “titles” have been given to us from the people who created them. The only real “class” and “distinction” we all belong to is the human race. All humans, all beings of our great and beautiful planet Earth, all here for a reason. The trouble is realizing that reason, many have been kicked down relentlessly by society, and their glimpse of obtaining that reason diminishes more and more with each blow. So I say, let us congregate; let us, the overtly fortunate ones on the outside, show those who are just the same as us, that they ARE and have always been the same as us inside. Everyone has potential, and everyone has a unique talent residing within them. These potentials and talents are varied of course, but they are not absent.
I was not put on here to grow up, work my tail off everyday of my life, and then die at a ripe old age having acquired nothing actually substantial. Listen, if the big mansion in Miami and fast Ferrari is your interpretation of substance than I’m not going to convince you otherwise, but I will offer you a different perspective. We were brought into this world as the most innocent and love filled version of ourselves. As young children we are always creating and imagining, playing with our neighbors regardless of their socioeconomic status, and having an absolute grand time while doing it. We have migrated away from that egoless phase in our lives, and now we’re all in competition for the next opportunity to one up those neighbors we played with long ago. What I’m trying to say is, we have been there before, we started as individuals who didn’t judge, didn’t put down others for just being themselves, and didn’t need to prove ourselves to a society who never really cared in the first place. Return to it, I’m begging you, return to that time where love filled every moment, every crease in our universe. Make the decision to help and guide rather than push off to the side because we are all in this together, regardless of if anyone wants to believe it or not. Even if the world came crashing down with war and climate change and there was only 6 people left on the whole planet, those 6 people would probably look at each other and try to figure it out kindly. The importance is the bonds we form with others, and ultimately with yourself. The importance is the compassion we offer to others that will make it’s way back to us in time. The importance is treating people who may not know they have something to offer, like they do… because… they do.
Thanks for reading ❤
I think the next post will be about anxiety & stress, and how to accordingly transform that energy into something we can work with, rather than cripple under.