Are We Making Progress?

Politicians and corporate leaders (the two being entirely interchangeable) speak often of progress. Politicians offer as examples a more ‘inclusive’ societal model. Corporate leaders add to that additional methods of creating profit. Corporate leaders often point to political leaders as the barrier to that progressive profit – which is why they often become politicians to eliminate those barriers.

Progress itself implies a measure of movement. An ‘increase’ in some metric. A society that is more ‘tolerant’ of outlier citizens becomes more ‘inclusive’ and increases the number of people in the norm. That should offend everyone. It states that some are not normal and society’s rules must be changed to ‘tolerate’ those living outside current norms. That type of statement and those types of beliefs are what create the ‘us’ and ‘them’ paradigm to begin with. Still, if progress equals increase, then inclusion through tolerance can be considered progress.

Progress should be viewed as making things better. That is also a form of increase but a more specific one. So creating a product that does more is progression. Creating one that lasts longer is progression. Both from the consumer point of view. From a corporate/profit view, creating a product whose perception is improving or is positive – regardless of the quality or features of the actual product itself – is considered progress.

If these are the metrics of progress, how are we doing? How much progress have we made in the past half century? Strike that – how much progress have we made in the past year?

If progress involves inclusion – and that word could take ten blog posts alone to define since it can mean anything from acknowledgement that others exist to desire to make them part of your family to (most desirably) not even noting a difference between groups – then 2015 was a breakout, standout year. Gays went from being PC to being perhaps part of that ‘not even noticing the difference’ category. Muslims, especially “migrants” from war-torn areas, have jumped the broom. Groups from every part of the ‘difference’ spectrum have been recognized by most Western countries. So if the measure of progress is inclusion, 2015 was a banner year.

Despite the fact that a wide number of groups have joined (?) the ‘norm’ (the phrase ‘new normal’ is used so often it’s become cliche), the truth is that the divisions which separate the groups have become more pronounced than at any time since the Civil Rights movement began.

How can both be true? How can we, as a society both have become more diverse and more divisive? As mentioned, the word inclusion has a wide interpretation. While gay marriage may now be the law of the land for many countries, it is often just words. Many conservatives consider it an affront and have not accepted the concept, no matter what the law states. This is the truth for many of the groups that now make up the ‘new normal’. They are included and tolerated, but far from accepted.

France is proud that their census includes no mention of race. They are all one…in theory. The flip side of that fact is that no official numbers are kept about racial equality. So while all Frenchman are simply men, the fact remains that few of those who are included but not traditionally “French” are in positions of authority. The egalitarian approach both promotes inclusion and hides exclusion. Tricky.

The truth beneath the veneer is that while progression is being made, it’s as it’s always been – slow. The ‘new’ generation is more accepting of folks outside what older generations would consider normal. The next one will, too. The media, especially social media, is the instructor to this generation and it’s reasonable to accept that will be the same for their children. As the media continues to portray as normal the inclusion of different races and relationships, it will become normal.

Two things: one, this is the same method used by the National Socialists in the 30’s and 40’s to create the image of the evil Jew and the same used now to make cigarette smoking an evil activity. Behavior modification is also known as brainwashing. Two, what’s the next ‘new’ normal?

With morality being a constantly changing ideal, one has to ask who is determining what is moral and for what reason. If neither normal nor moral are fixed concepts used for judging behavior and ideals – where do we as a society say ‘no more’ and what do we base that on? How do we determine if we are making ‘progress’ if the goals are constantly changing?

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~ by Mad Prophet on January 28, 2016.

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