The Role of an Individual With Regards to Problems in Society

image from reference.com/world-view/role-individual-society-de1717591b9aad6b

INTRODUCTION

I feel there is a general impression that things today are still bad, despite current statistics saying otherwise

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– Current unemployment rate: 3.9%

– Have friends and family struggling to find work

– Last reported U.S. poverty rate: 12.7%,

– Significant decline from 2010, but still 1.7% higher than lowest recorded figure of 2000

– Still see homeless roaming my neighborhood

So, despite current statistics, do we have to “do our part” to make the world better?

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Why?

  1. Ethical reasons: Helping others is just the right thing to do
  2. Sociological/self-interest reasons: Helping others raises your social status
  3. Physiological reasons: Helping others is good for your health

ETHICAL REASONS

Pope Pius XII poses for his 80th birthday portrait in his Vatican apartments in front of a painting of the Lake Albano at Castelgandolfo, near his summer residence, in 1956. (Image by Bettmann/CORBIS.)

Pope Pius quote: “Human beings are naturally social creatures.  We cannot live properly human lives without participation in societies or social human groups of different kinds” (Ryan, 2018)

Simply put, the Golden Rule.

Maybe not this “golden rule” (via GIPHY)

To put it in another more self-serving perspective, how about the phrase, “I scratch your back, you scratch mine?”

Also, being perceived as one who serves others before themselves does put you in a good light.

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SOCIOLOGICAL REASONS

image from leadership.mit.edu

Renowned organizational psychologist Edgar Schein: “People are motivated mainly by economic incentives for their own needs, desires, satisfaction and survival.” (Haski-Leventhal, 2009)

Similar to Pope Pius XII’s statement, except . . .

Pope Pius XII – Kantian/deontological point of view: morality of an action depends on the intrinsic nature of the action. (Conway & Gawronski, 2013)

Ed Schein – Utilitarian approach: morality of an action is determined by its consequences. (Conway & Gawronski, 2013)

Regardless of one’s ethical motivations, altruistic emotions and behaviors may be related to good health.

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PHYSIOLOGICAL REASONS

International Journal of Behavioral Medicine article“It’s good to be good,” says helping behavior leads to . . .

  • Health promotion
  • Disease prevention
  • Increase in creativity, imagination and openness
  • Decrease in negative emotions that lead to depression (Post, 2005)

For the significant amount of evidence supporting the aid of your fellow man, there doesn’t seem to be an argument against it, unless . . .

Owner: Leonard Peikoff | Credit: Ayn Rand Archives

. . . you follow Ayn Rand.

COUNTER ARGUMENT

In her book, The Virtue of Selfishness (1964) she defines and advocates rational selfishness as “Values required for human survival, not the values produced by the desires, feelings, and whims or the needs of irrational brutes, who have never outgrown the primordial practice of human sacrifice”

Axl Rose put it best when he said, “If you hunger for what you see you’ll take it eventually. You can have everything you want but you better not take it from me.” (Guns N’ Roses, 1987)

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If you can remove all emotional reaction from their statements, they kinda make valid cases.

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, most of us are unable to remove emotion from anything, let alone their message.

Yes, we should do our part.

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As long as we’re smart about it.

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