WHO AM I? WHERE AM I?
WHAT AM I DOING HERE?
A TEXTBOOK FOR LIFE, LIVING, AND REALITY
Section 1 - Chapter 4 -- The Sociological Identification
Now, let's see....where do we begin?
I guess we'll begin just where we left off.
Our new beginning and our new journey begins with the word - "growth". As you have learned, growth is a relative word that involves the number two or more. By proper definition, growth pertains to an increase or progression of sorts, but it is also a word that sets limits. That means that two or more objects, items, or points, are involved. Actually, it is a series of short beginnings and endings.
To grow indicates movement or change of some kind. Growth involves time and space of anything that can be identified in a linear direction. That means that any identifiable object has a starting point or beginning and that is its present situation in time and space relative to its start or present position or end result. Perhaps you may remember a basic concept of science that says, "All matter is in constant motion". That means that there is change or movement taking place all the time, but you may not be able to observe it. It also means that the object is no longer in its exact same condition or position to its original beginning. To make it simpler yet, it means that if we draw a straight line, we have a beginning and an end. Growth means that we are at some point along that line of progression.
Why all this concern for the word - "growth?"
It is because, growth is what life is all about!
Man is said to grow in four ways. These are: mentally, physically, spiritually and socially. Of these four, spiritually is probably the least understood form of growth and socially, is probably the least thought about form of growth. There is little that has to be said about mental and physical growth. Most people have a very good idea of what is meant by growth in these two areas because they can definitely relate to them and they are noticeable. People can see the results or change of mental and physical growth much easier than growth of the spirit and that of sociology.
In dealing with the subject of growth and man, it is necessary to get into some rather technical areas of study. This is something, I would like to avoid; however, I see no way to get around it. This is a polite way of saying that we are going to be discussing some rather boring information that a lot of scholars think is important and they make a big deal over it. The subject concerning the growth of man falls under many classifications; however, the two areas that we are most interested in are those of Anthropology and Sociology. These are two classifications or limited areas of study concern man's physical growth in relation to his fellow man.
Anthropology is primarily concerned with the study of the physical and mental characteristics of the various racial groups of people. It is a systematic study and classification of people by a variety of criteria, all of which is artificial or intangible. That is, man or scholars have set limitations that supposedly identifies people into groupings based on; biology, religion, politics, ideology, occupation or any other division that may involve or affect or influence other people. Whereas, sociology deals with all of the above, but primarily it has more to do with its organizations, institutions, and society. Both deal with human values.
Like any other supposedly intelligent, clear cut and dry subject worthy of study, you get what you are looking for. Depending upon which source or authority you read or study, you will find that man is classified into either one, three or five major racial or physically structured human beings or species. For simplicity sake, let's go with the idea that all the classifications of race are a variety of a single species and then go with the anthropologists who claim that the environment affects physical or biological changes. That is, man over a period of time, has evolved physically due to adaption to climate, food supply and even culture or self imposed practices. Other divisions or limitations which may be noticeable are the learned habits imposed by technology, economics, religion, language, social organizations, and culture.
Now, here you have some of the identifiable limitations affecting the growth of man. But, it should be understood that man is not committed by his physical or learned habits to any particular behavior. Culture is not biologically transmitted. Culture only transmits tradition. It is culture, with its ideas and concepts of good, bad, right and wrong that bind men together. It is these intangible ideas and standards that form or bond people together for a common purpose and growth within certain defined limitations. This union, in return, gives each individual a sense of not merely who or what they are, but of what they are likely to become. It is shared experience which relates to the individual and the larger group. This is our sociological identification. This includes our accepted self imposed rules of behavior known as morality.
This acceptance or identification process is a supposedly strange involuntary act committed on our part at birth. We identify and assume responsibility from day one, whether we like it or not. By the age of three, our identification is almost complete and irreversible. Our identification process is both an active and passive relationship. These early years are formidable years of acceptance and passive learning habits. It is in the later years that the active response and teaching habits are most noticeable; however, this reinforcement of values is a constant progressive process involving great responsibility.
This identification process is a conditioning program based on a stimulus and response type behavior relationship which is extremely strong in molding the individual. The end result of this process is a conditioned individual that acts or responds rather than thinks in most cases. There is a certain amount of tolerated thinking; however, it is also somewhat limited or directed in certain areas which do not affect basic beliefs. This conditioning program can be thought of more like action-reaction situation or our analogy of beginnings and endings, otherwise known as limitations. Things are not thought of as either right or wrong, they just are. These unquestioned responses can therefore be classified as beliefs or patterns of recognition. Such responses or beliefs are the bases of civilizations and cultures. These intangible actions or responses of a mental or physical nature form relationships that have tangible qualities or values that hold people together. Again, this response behavior is our sociological identification.
At this point, you should be aware that both you and I are part of a larger group. Therefore, it is totally impossible that either of us can be totally unbiased in our mental processes and attitudes concerning other cultures and groups. We are conditioned to respond with likes and dislikes, again patterns of recognition, rather than to think intelligently and logically. However, we are given free will to make logical decisions against our conditioned likes or responses, but the odds and chance for doing so are against us. We are products of our environment! Not victims!
The larger cultural group that I belong to is known as the western civilization. This sociological group, their behavior and technological achievements dominate most of the other cultures of the world; therefore, their social behavior patterns are known and wide spread and to some extent practiced by other cultures. The main characteristic traits of this group are the predominately European historical past and its Christian religious teachings. There are exceptions in all cultures to all patterns of behavior and there are numerous varieties or subcultures within this grouping, but they are share a history that is a common bond.
Subcultures lead us into a kind of gray areas that should be talked about briefly. Just like our difficulty of determining the number of physical races, the number of subcultures is a compounded problem. It becomes very difficult to classify all of the subcultures and do we really want too. After a couple of divisions the artificial separations lose their importance, except maybe it also depends on who is doing the classifying. Again, this is a relative situation which varies with the results that one wants to be achieved.
For sake of argument, we will say that these larger groupings of people can be broken into smaller groups according to special interests. That is, these new smaller groups may share some common bonds and characteristics of the whole group, but they would like to strengthen or persuade the majority of their interests by statistical numbers; therefore, they want greater representation that can be separated or classified further as a group that represent their special interests.
The problem of recognizing these subcultures or groups are that you have so many special interests that people can belong to a great many different special interest groups. Therefore, it is possible that you can be counting or classifying the same individual to one or a dozen special groups and that can distort the statistics of the whole group. It is therefore also possible that the same person can be in effect for or against himself in some specific issue or action. Example: You can have a lawyer who is a member of a gun club organization, and then you can have that organization or group of lawyers introducing legislation to eliminate guns. Therefore, the question of classification loses some of its importance when you try to define the lines of limitations.
Some of these sub-groups are very important, such as the organizing of people by occupation; whereas, the classification of say religion, maybe of a lesser importance to the overall well being of the individual or the culture. Then again, that opinion depends on other factors or relationships. Also a classification is also dependant on time and/or current events. If you had a condition of say, a religious war over ideology, then it would be very important to know ones religious classification. It is again important to note the end result or purpose of these limitations and how they relate to a specific situation or desired end result.
One last note about subcultures. These cultures within a culture, or smaller groupings known as organizations, families, tribes, classes, cliques, etc., can also be known as a minority. Now, a minority means to be part of the total, but belonging to that part which is not in control or to be fewer in numbers than the larger distinguishing limitations. One must be careful when designating a minority as to not confuse apples and oranges. That is, one must be careful not to count one person into more than one minority grouping. To do so would change the issue or problem and not the quantity for or against something. Remember even though one belongs to a minority, that does not necessarily mean that, that person supports that minority and/or all of their beliefs.
The implied meaning of a minority connotes inferiority, because one or that particular group is fewer than the overall total; therefore, they are supposed to be subject to the will of the majority. In actuality, there is no clear cut majority or consensus of thought; rather, there is this overlapping of minorities that make up the whole. In most cultures the majority still determine the limitations, but a good organization still tries to incorporate minority opinions.We are a society or culture of individuals. Control, is the self imposed limitations or value responses of the individual to the greater overall total or end result to society. You notice, we have come back to the number one or total again.
So you see, the important thing to remember then, is not so much the division or classification of the minority or subculture, as it is the overall unit, governing body, or control factor. It is the relationship of the individual to the end result that is the controlling factor. Unless the individual supports the control unit, that body cannot function. How the individual functions in this relationship is difficult to determine. Basically, this is our cause and effect relationship or action/reaction behavior which is reinforced, intensified or given importance or value by a stimulus response type behavior pattern, all rolled up into one. In effect, you have an action (special interest) that has certain tangible qualities of force, even though it consists of intangibles, that is intensified or given existence relative to the stimulus response type reaction.
I'll bet that last statement was clear as mud. To try to simplify that point, I'll try to give you an example. Suppose we say we have a square block that some group thinks is important. This block gets tossed into a bunch of other blocks of supposedly equal importance, size, shape, etc., how does one notice this block. This is our cause and effect relationship. The only way for this block to be noticed is for some action to occur by some form of stimulus, and the intensity of the stimulus depends on the intensity of the response desired. That's like saying the height to which I raise that block, affects or directly relates to the impact or impression that block makes upon the total relationship of all the other blocks. The amount of exposure or attention affects the response, but it is the qualities or weight of the block that is significant and that is something extremely difficult to pin down. That's the unknown quality that cultures play on behavior patterns.
Cultures determine modes of behavior in action, thought, and intensity. Cultures impart intangible building forces of self imposed limitations that control. It appears that the relationship is held together by a constant variable that has its own set of rules. That is, in the act of growth, we increase and progress in a certain linear direction on an almost pre-ordained manner based on evolving limitations or at least a line of probable actions. By making selections, one sets into motion certain counter responses or actions that in turn continuously sets in motion a process of growth or change in a specific linear direction. This is really a series of short beginnings and endings.
This is a process of growth or a type of conditioning program that we alluded to earlier in our childhood, except, now the situation is so common place that we no longer can consciously relate to the process. In effect, this indicates or concludes that behavior patterns are predictable, as well as that of cultures. This is also our computer type example that concludes that unless specific information is put in (enacted or programmed), there is no way an answer can show up that is not already known, because input limits output to a specific known answer. There is no thinking necessary or involved in this process. It is a progressive path of short beginnings and endings.
Let me elaborate a little more on this patterning process. We acquire our knowledge and behavior by experiencing and observing the interactions of people and the world around us. These experiences are reinforced by drawing on past history and/or memory of similar situations. In a sense, we are conditioned somewhat like laboratory animals; except, we are given a greater latitude and freedom of movement than our caged friends. Just the same, we reinforce our beliefs by the system of stimulus and response type patterning. That is, we are rewarded for proper behavior and punished or not acknowledged for improper behavior. This is a form or process of limitations. Through repetitive situations, a specific response is generated which becomes automatic and can therefore be called, a belief. Because our laboratory or our environment seems almost limitless and non-confining, we are unaware of our own conditioning. Cultures are in a sense, nothing more than groups that conform to a specific patterning behavior.
Now, to conform means to adapt and adapt means to change. This kind of indicates that everything grows and changes. Like our scientific example of all matter is in motion, these changes may be so slow as to be imperceptible. Even in the most controlled environment designed to prevent change or to hold standards, there is in fact, change taking place. How can that be? You ask. Well, these changes again are so slow as to be unnoticeable or insignificant. Most things appear to be the same on a daily basis, but they are in a relationship of change or slightly different but still recognizable. That means that we relate to something or some person and we relate to the process of change which makes everything identifiable. All items in this physical reality relate to time and space and they will change in relation to time and space by some form of expansion (growth) or contraction (resistance).
In any case, it is a common everyday process of growth to adapt to one's environment. Each and everyday, there are a series of changes taking place that may need special or slightly different actions to accomplish the same or equal desired end results. Most people can recognize and adjust to these changes with little difficulty. However, to adapt to another culture requires time. One can adjust to differences and changes to a certain extent or within limitations; however, one cannot normally act contrary to basic beliefs no matter how hard they try. That's like the old saying - "You can take the city boy out of the city to the country, but you cannot take the city boy out of the boy".
It is possible to move and live within other cultural environments, but one would never totally become part of these new environments mentally. It is in effect, quite another world or reality, and one cannot relate to something that was never there to begin with. One can go through the physical motions of conforming, but one can never achieve mental compatibility, because the early learning habits that teach beginnings and endings, was not there to begin with in that environment and the relationship does not exist to form a common bond with that cultural environment.
The willingness of individuals to impose self limitations or to conform to specific behavior patterns seems strange, but man has discovered through the years that there are great advantages enjoyed by living together in a common relationship. Man use to be only concerned about his food, shelter, and security. His daily tasks were directed toward providing for himself and family. In small groups, he could share or specialize in various skills which could provide for the greater well being of the group concerned At the same time this organization gave him more time to enjoy some of the rewards and pleasures that life had to offer, as well as some of prestige, pride, wealth, position or control that this new structure gave him.
The idea of mental compatibility has evolved over a long period of time, just as the physical characteristics and mans needs has evolved. The adaption of man into organized units was done voluntarily in an effort to improve his own lot from the necessities, wants and the boredom of repetitive routines, which consumed his entire life. Man has progressed to a point where he no longer must perform daily activities or functions which are solely aimed at his well being and that of his family. Now, man has grown into a interdependent gregarious individual who seeks certain specialized functions in support of this greater organized unit called civilization and cultures. This evolution is deemed to be greatly beneficial to all of society because it has allowed individuals more time and freedom to seek and develop more creative endeavors and more beneficial achievements to help strengthen his particular culture..
Modern man, in the western civilization, no longer thinks in terms of interdependency; however, it is still there, it still works, and it still is the underlying strength that makes this culture what it is today. It is this organizational structure that has allowed us to progress in the more technical areas of creativity and to enrich the lives of all mankind. Today, we have reached a point where, "Man is learning more and more about less and less." That is, man is specializing in such limited areas of study, that the knowledge he derives from such specialization is no longer information that aids in the general well being of all, but rather, it only contributes to other individuals of specialized studies. This information or specialization is supposed to trickle down to benefit all; however, this route or time span becomes longer and longer as specialization increases.
The dependency and specialization of people, has continued to grow and intensify over the years, but man has gotten so accustomed to this relationship that he no longer thinks in terms of dependency and shared responsibilities. In fact, because of his increased specialization, some of these people can no longer relate in a constructive manner to living off the land and providing for their own survival. One does not normally think about dependency when there are so many sources of supply and alternatives which one can utilize to fulfill his wants and needs. This is something like the adage, "Out of sight, out of mind." It is a relationship that is now considered uncommon and therefore, not even thought about. This lack of thought or forgetfulness is reinforced by all the overlapping and backup systems of the supply and demand type marketing structure that civilization has constructed, but just the same, there are limitations. In such an environment, even the word survival, no longer has the significance it once had.
In a land of plenty, one thinks more about wants and themselves than in shared responsibilities and the greater good. The values of such bonds, ideas and attitudes cannot be properly related to experiences of the past. In an affluent society, wants, seem to create more wants and the value of such wants, diminish as they are possessed. "The more you get, the more you want.", and the importance or value, is lost. That's because value is not necessarily in the object or possession, but is the means or way of accomplishing the end result. There use to be a travel agency slogan once read, "Half the fun is just getting there." In such an environment, happiness or satisfaction cannot be properly achieved, because value is an intangible quality that relates not only to the possession, but to the individual as well. The filling of wants does not constitute great happiness per se, as the relationship involved in accomplishing the end result or possession, which is indirectly, a form of self enforced responsibility.
In a realistic relationship, we indicated that a selection and in this case, a possession must be equal to that which you have or are willing to give, in the form of various energies. That's something like saying that one deserves or has earned the right or privilege to the end result through personal efforts or actions. This possession then is directly related to a cause and effect relationship, but the amount of efforts or actions needed to accomplish this task relate more to a stimulus-response type assessment to the word, value, in that it establishes its degree of importance to that individual. Therefore, since the effort or value is a personal assessment, the relationship of the possession to the individual may not be the same to each individual who experiences this same possession. Given the same end result, the value may be different to each individual who experiences it.
The idea of dependency and responsibility does not consciously relate to modern western man's environment, as it may in other cultural environments. In our culture, the value of these intangible qualities is not known or possessed, nor are they sought; therefore, they have no major tangible values or importance at this time in relationship to this culture. But even though this culture may not value these qualities, there is still a relationship. This is a cultural relationship which we unknowingly agreed to by engaging in or partaking in the physical life experience. You may or may not agree to the worth or value of an object or possession, but because you are part of a greater organized unit, you may unknowingly agreed to fulfill your obligations of and to that greater unit. You may try to resist this integration or interaction, but just the same, it is there and it is the dominate force that prevails in determining your behavior.
So this is what social identification is all about. It is about the growth and journey of a larger organized unit that is bound together by dependency and responsibility to the overall well being of the individual and the organized unit known as culture. This grouping is a tight knit structure that is specified and functions as a single unit, but it is only as strong as its weakest link and this link is called value. It is a difficult intangible link or relationship that does exist and does work; however, in the western culture, this force lacks value or the limitations of other societies.
In our civilization, the idea of dependency and responsibility is openly denied, because the relationship is difficult to determine and confusing to the average individual. Just the same, it is there, and the importance of this relationship can only become quite noticeable during a time of crisis or in the event some major disaster known as a state of emergency, that might affect our marketing system of the distribution of goods and/or services. It is this identification of intangible qualities that have a tangible binding force and growth in a linear direction of probability.
I will close this chapter with a poem that has mixed thoughts. There is a connection or link that binds man to one another and I think you can see that in this piece.
In the beginning, God created the heaven and earth
and filled it with consciousness.
That conscious entity manifested itself into the physical
being known as man.
From infinite energy, without form, came a world of images
And one image, MAN, was given dominion over this world.
Mutual deliberation became the basis of this reality and
civilization of probability that we know.
This progression of thought, this world, and this moment
is now our home.
This is the present environment we have chosen to expand
our experiences of becoming.
However, we have forgotten our true origin and inner awareness
in our spacious present.
We are from one, we are of one, we receive from one, and we
give to one, in a multidimensional manner.
Yet, we are more than the sum of one's parts.
We are past, present and the future.
We are, we were, we will be.
The selection and choice is of our own and his guidance.
The element of time is a concept of mind and our projected world.
At this level, we are subject to deception and trials of
our own volition.
At the next level, we will remember the concept of good,
better and best.
Before then, we must approach another step in the evolution
of our becoming.
We will once again, and soon, recognize and remember
all that we have forgotten.
Until that moment, inequity will prosper and multiply and
wreak havoc with the quality of life that could have been.
This trauma will cease when the entities of one will be
the enemies of none.
Man, with a renewed understanding from within, shall again
join God and his creation on a new venture in this world.
There will then become a true heaven on earth and peace among men.