Has the culture we live in lost its self-awareness?
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Has the culture we live in lost its self-awareness?

Why we should really think about the things we laugh at.

Has the culture we live in lost its self-awareness?

Many people would say that we are indeed the product of our times. We can only fight the nature of our society for so long and in so many ways—the argument has been proffered with respect to the objectification of women, the unhealthy diet that so many Americans indulge in, the accepted proliferation of death culture through abortion and euthanasia, and so on and so forth. These are the products of our times and of our culture. Resisting the trends is so unlikely to make a difference that in order to do so, you must sign away any hope of being taken seriously. When did convictions and the fight for uncontested self-worth become laughable?

By happy accident a few days ago, I read a page in Plato’s Symposium in which he drew a distinction between those things that are “laughable” and those things that are merely laughed at, undeservedly so. I find myself living in a culture whose sense of humor is sorely misdirected! It laughs at things with a base surrendering of standards, heritage, and the inherent worth of its subjects. The history, convictions, and dreams of its individual members are forgotten when this culture (for which nobody wants to accept responsibility) seeks out entertainment. We adopt a mob mentality on the internet and in our movies, songs, and novels that degrades so much. The most recent flare of attention has been generated by racial violence, and I am in no way denying that those things take place. Racial minorities are slighted in the big ways and the small, but there is enough suffering to spread around. The elderly are stereotyped, women are objectified, children are denied the opportunity to breathe whatever clean air the world can offer them, and young people slide into the same bad habits of previous generations because they are crippled by an inadequate educational system. Why do we laugh at this?

I have asked this question verbally and definitively of many people who I admire and regard as either role models or peers of equal intelligence and foresight. They have often given the response, “If we do not laugh, we will cry. There is nothing to do about these situations.”

I stamp my foot at that unapologetically. I am not a person of loud words or angry ones, but I refuse to believe that we must make light of situations as if silence could not change them. I still allow myself the privilege of being stunned into silence when I encounter violence, injustice, discrimination, or blatant vulgarity in daily life. I cherish those reactions. Many people would say that those reactions are only evidence of an immature naïveté that I should shed as soon as possible, but I look at those same people and see a kind of callousness. They are the ones who tell me that they must laugh at situations because they cannot be changed. They are the ones I am inclined to stamp my foot at because what they call childish indignation, I call a righteous anger. A person’s sense of humor provides a wealth of insight into their character. It can elucidate their fears, weaknesses, curiosities, and intellectual tendencies. What does the entertainment industry communicate about today’s culture? The culture we proliferate and iconize?

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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