September 2nd, 2011
I don’t particularly like big words; I think they reek of the arrogance that welcomes alienation rather than inclusion. Of course, we don’t really mean big words when we say “big words.” After all, “neighborhood” is a big word, but everybody knows its definition. By “big words” we mean obscure words that aren’t used a lot, and when they are presented, they are usually injected to impress rather than enlighten.
So forgive me for titling this piece “Proclivity,” because it just might be one of those more extinct terms. The definition is “a natural or habitual inclination or tendency.” In other words, “it is just like a monkey to eat a banana.” (That particular application of “proclivity” would be acceptable, I suppose. Some apes may object.)
But now, in our society, we attribute proclivities to people and groups of people at will—without apology, putting our friends in boxes and then slamming down the lids.
After all, we are told that women are more “emotional” than men. (Actually, I have found this to be absolutely the opposite. Men just desire a safe haven where they won’t be ridiculed, and once they feel protected, they are just as emotional as women.)
“Teenagers are crazy for sex and all of them play video games.” (Of course, this can’t be true, but in our instant-rice-society, we want to whip things up quickly and serve them without dealing with possible exceptions.)
Proclivity is the new acceptable way to be prejudiced without facing the slings and arrows of being accused of bigotry. All you have to do is say “most people” or “in my discovery” or “don’t you think that the majority is…” and then you hide behind the assertion that there is a habitual inclination for this particular individual or group to follow a pattern.
This practice has opened the door for religion, politics and business to manufacture philosophies which treat human beings as cattle rather than newly birthed calves.
For after all, religion believes that man has the proclivity of being evil and sinful. You can go into any church on any Sunday and hear the congregants read a confession which was written three or four hundred years ago, claiming that we are all doomed to be selfish, uncaring and incapable of following the Golden Rule. Really? Why would I want to be a member of any organization that believes that I’m incapable of getting better? Is there a way for me to repent of my sins and make sure, each and every time I do so, that I come up with new iniquity instead of the same old garbage? Can a piece of repentance that was written even two weeks ago represent my present status, let alone the condition of a whole room of people?
So religion thinks man has a proclivity to be evil and sinful. Ouch. Forgive me—I’d like to get better. I guess that’s my confession.
Meanwhile, politics is convinced that mankind has a proclivity towards ignorance. So it is the job of politicians to educate us with their particular party’s bend on the truth and sell that for our common good, so that they may be elected to office, to save the country. Here’s the problem: in a two-party system, if one party is always trying to prove that the other party has failed at progressing the ideals of the nation, how do we ever know when we actually have progressed? Is it possible to sit down and celebrate the successes of our executive, legislative and judicial branches of government without giving up too much turf to the other guy? Or must we always be in a political upheaval that contends the other guy has screwed things up and that because people are ignorant, they need our party to take over and rescue the nation?
Yes, politics really does believe people are ignorant.
Which leads to business. Business deeply advertises the notion that the American public has a proclivity towards being gullible. Show’em the shiny ball and they will follow you anywhere. Throw in some bright colors, erroneous offers, comical claims and a little sex, and the gullible American public will march off the edge of the cliff like lemmings. (Even though I discovered in studying the subject that lemmings won’t actually do that. I guess just the American public.)
So business thinks that people have a proclivity for gullibility.
Therefore, what happens when you tell human beings that they are sinful, ignorant and gullible? I believe they will recoil by becoming defensive, conceited and mean.
Interesting, don’t you think? It could possibly be the perfect description of the temperament of our times—defensive, conceited and mean. For after all, you can have a dog and get him to obey by beating him with a newspaper and screaming at him when he does things you don’t like, but that dog will not be good for anything or anyone else at any time.
The same thing is true of people. When you tell them that God thinks they’re bad, that they are too stupid to understand what is best for them politically, and insist on how easily they are manipulated by Madison Avenue, they will strike back at you with their fear of losing all their identity.
Call me an optimist—but I choose to think that people (which would include myself) might just surprise everyone—and do something different than what has transpired before. Without this, we have a sinful, ignorant and gullible generation which is defensive, conceited and mean. That’s not good…right?
· I believe true religion redeems us to better goals.
· True government includes people and applauds progress, no matter what the source.
· And true business creates a product that can be advertised—but could live off of word of mouth.
If we will change the way we view the proclivities of man, we might just find that the monkey only ate the banana because it was available.