Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Righteous Indignation

It occurred to me whilst I read even more damning statistics, about the disparity in resources and wealth in the world recently that its right that these stats and realities should make one angry....VERY ANGRY!!!....This anger can also be called ' Righteous Indignation'. Righteous indignation over gross injustices perpetrated by individuals, groups, communities, and social structures that seek to maintain advantageous positions by squashing the denizen poor beneath their collective heels. Guess what! WE are those individuals, groups, communities, and social structures that are actively or passively, by commission or omission doing this.

So why shouldn't it make one angry, when you realize that we made 61,000 billion dollars last year as a planet (GPP), but we cant spare 40 billion to ensure every man, woman, and child on the planet can drink safe clean water. When we spend 1200 Billion on weapons and arms, but supply the United nations, our ONLY global representative body with a mere 27 billion dollars each year, for all its administration, and projects.

Why shouldn't it make you mad, that 4000 children a day are dying from Diarrhoea, or that 50% of the beds in third world Hospitals are filled with those suffering from the same ailment, a preventable disease, because 90% of the 2.5 billion people in the developing world who don't have any sanitation or access to tools of hygiene are shitting into the same water sources they are forced to drink from.

Lets get real.....if we WAKE UP, and see what the state of events actually are, as they exist in the world today for 3.25 billion people (half the world population) who live on less than 2$ a day, and contrast that with the unbelievable wealth that is actually available to deal with these issues, and so many more, then you'd have to be either a callous sociopath, a sadistic psychopath, or an emotionally dead automaton, NOT to feel the 'Righteous Indignation' at such GROSS injustices.

OK....all of this is not new, lets face it we've been struggling ever since we climbed out of the sludge to sort out a situation whereby some form of balance could be struck that rewards certain kinds of actions over other actions, and dissuades some forms of behaviour and inclinations over those we deem acceptable within the social and temporal circumstance. It has ever been the case, that social systems are constructed as approximation processes, that mirror what either powerful individuals, (monarchs, dictatorships...), cabals (theocracies et al), or societies in general (Democracies etc.) consider their necessary vices and virtues.

For 60 years we have constructed in some manner or other, a global social network of representation, through global business agreements, the World Bank, The United Nations, the International Monetary fund, and various other Global agencies. All of which are GROSSLY UNDERFUNDED!!!!!....preferring to retain possession of personal wealth over and above the concept of a 'Commonwealth'. Of course this debate is one that can rage forever, and in fact does, between the Rawlsian and Nozickian camps, the Consumerists and Communitarian's, The Pan nationalists and the Global Federalists. But whatever way you paint it....half the worlds population is in dire poverty, 1 billion people have NO access to fresh drinking water, 2.5 Billion have no access to sanitation or simple Hygiene, 3.25 billion find themselves in a desperate day to day struggle to simply exist, and all the while we make 61 trillion dollars a year!!!! is that right?

Simple answer: ITS NOT!!!!!!

So what's the solution?

Now obviously I could rattle page after page of damning statistics, desperate disparities that make any clear thinking and feeling person with an ounce of empathy and compassion simply curl up their toes, close their eyes, and attempt to go back to sleep in a headlong sprint from the horror of the TRUTH, as it exists for most people. But how will that help, except to prick consciences. Most people just say, 'well what the heck can we do about it, we just exist within a system that simply constructs this resultant disparity, we didn't ask for it, we didn't even want it, and we sure as heck don't know what to do about it'.

In a way I have a lot of sympathy for those views, fact is most people are born into the world completely oblivious of their circumstance or the social structures in which they will be asked to exist within, and enjoin with, in order to get by. So it’s hardly a sin to exist within the social structures we are born into. Having said that, there comes a time when one is confronted by a gross injustice, that it then behoves that person, or group of people, to make a choice. They either choose to ignore it; or adopt an 'I'm all right Jack' selfish position; or obviate responsibility to some other group- a passing the buck position; or resign themselves to a state of listless apathy; or succumb to their own fears of rocking the boat; or find a myriad of reasonable and unreasonable justifications for turning away from the injustice or the needy; or they do something about it.

Let’s face it, most people only act out of convenience or some form of gain. Capitalism wouldn't be such a powerful expression of human instinct were that not the case. So the trick must be to both make the solution convenient, and appeal to some personal gain within the specified agent, whether that gain be one of altruistic appeasement in a compassionate or empathic agent, or merely satiating some personal peccadillo.

Now of course many have touted solutions such as Revolution, and violent over throw of corrupt regimes, systemic abuse of systems that are themselves abusive. These ideas are not new, lets face it the Communist revolutions last Century were a testament to the altruistic forces within the collective human psyche, in fact systems and regimes the world over have eventually fallen foul of their own systemic abuse for thousands of years, so the concept of revolution is not a new one. Sadly what also is not new in these often violent overthrows are the perpetuated systemic abuses by the regimes that seize power, often under the banner of justice and peace, only to find that the pogroms and witch hunts that follow and the slaughters that take them to that place are even more abusive than anything that they sought to liberate themselves from....its just that its happening to someone else!!!!....and as always it is usually the INNOCENT that suffer the most. So I reject a call for Violent revolution, as a sordid corruption of the spirit of Righteous Indignation.

Righteous Indignation that leads to a position of anger is good. Anger itself at gross injustice is a positive state of being. This of course is not always what we are taught. Its right in the face of gross injustice to feel your internal sense of right and wrong challenged and compromised in such a manner that it swings wildly askew. This disconcerted feeling of gross imbalance is what evokes the feeling of anger!...this in fact is GOOD!...for any clear thinking, good hearted, Just, Honest and Sincere person of Good intention, with an ounce of compassion, would be similarly effected. WHAT WE DO WITH THAT ANGER HOWEVER, DEFINES US.

Anger, especially anger evoked through a state of Righteous indignation, does not have to lead to violence. If anything this avenue of expression is self defeating and hypocritical in the extreme. By merely exacting or perpetrating the very same injustice on another that you identified as a gross injustice in the first place, one ends up becoming that which was the object of ones ire. Anger is a catalyst, it is an internal compass bearing that points towards a state of affairs that is in need of rectification. It highlights the need for change. It isn't the change itself, but it can be the catalyst. It should be noted that perpetuating a state of Righteous indignation, without attempting to do something about it is also a self defeating process, and one that smacks of self indulgence. So if Righteous Indignation is to be the herald of anything positive, it must be the herald of action.

How that change occurs is also a point of choice!....change can come in many ways, violently!, through some catastrophic tipping point like a revolution, or peacefully by some collective constructive and imaginative process of Evolution. Systems that allow for the adaptation of process, and adaptive change to occur, are always likely to be hardier and more self sustaining, indeed effective, than those that buttress themselves from the changing circumstance of temporal and social flux.

One of the reasons that Capitalism is so hardy, is because it simply adjusts its winners and losers depending upon the emphasis within the market place. There will always be a winner!....there will always be a sector of the market that gains over and above other sectors of the market due to the collective social mores of the consumer base, or the vested interests of powerful elites who have assumed positions of power within the organelles of the administration processes of that free market capitalist entity. For instance during the last 8 years, the weapons and arms industry, the oil industry and allied pharmaceutical and chemical offspring gained massively over and above other competing sectors, and individuals and groups allied to these industries gained massively to boot, i.e.: companies like Halliburton and such entities like the Carlyle group.

So, it would seem that the framework is in fact in place to allow for the peaceful, constructive, productive and imaginative expression of the 'Righteous Indignation'...or JUST anger, that is peeked when faced with the outrageous disparity mentioned in the first few paragraphs. All it will take is that the bull be taken by the horns and choice be offered in a convenient manner to the consumer base to adjust the social circumstance and disparity that exists. No guns, No Bullets, No war, No murdering of innocents, No radical destructive process of retribution, but collective pro-social evolution through an organelle of an already existent system and process.

Now that's not to say, that the entire Globalist, Federalist, Cosmopolitan debate does not need to be enjoined. Its just that right here, Right now, we have at our disposal a system that if used creatively and imaginatively can bridge the divide we have systemically constructed between the developed and developing world, and appeal to the self interested 'ALTRUISTIC' drives and instincts within each member of the given system.

Sure a flat 10% global Transaction tax for a centralized World Representative body would afford 6.1 trillion dollars for all the projects that the world requires to function, and to cater to those requirements of its 'Commonwealth' and 'Common Concern', but in the meantime before that is sorted out, there is no reason that the systemic organelle within the free market cannot be used to alleviate the desperate plight of those in dire need of the basic necessities of existence.

So Be Angry!!!!....heck, be Furious, because the situation as it stands DEMANDS a fairly good dose of 'Righteous Indignation'.....but what we do with that Righteous Indignation is a choice, a choice that thankfully, given the sacrifice of Millions of our forebears we are able to make freely!....So make the right choice, be responsible for it, because in the end, you are also accountable for it.

© Richard Michael Parker 2009 


RMP said...

RMP said...

'...and justice for all' - sculptor James Muir, housed in the St Louis University school of law. For further work by James Muir,