Exploring the Social Imagination

Monday, June 2, 2014

Religion of isms... Extremes in Social Imagination

As a sociologist, I agree with the definition that religion is whatever you believe in strongly and that such belief guides your thinking and behavior; hence many isms can be your religion. Today, the new religion that seems to gaining membership is Environmentalism. There is nothing wrong with be a good steward of the earth as it is a wonderful gift that keeps on giving. In Genesis we can read that God ask man to do exactly that. Genesis 2: 15 "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." Interesting how "take care of' is being interpreted as caretaker which fits to the idea of maintain a gift that keeps on giving. This for some seems to be somehow contradicted earlier on in Genesis 1:28 "God blessed them and said to them (Adam and Eve) be fruitful and multiple, fill the earth and subdue it; rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." The interpretation of this segment has been that man has authority over the earth. He has been asked to subdue it, often interpreted as 'take over' from where God left off.  Both of these in their interpretations are used as belief foundations for social structures. In the later, man appears to be a program that is designed to take over and become a creator himself, allowed by and encouraged by his creator. The discussion today is ... 'are we to be the man who 'takes care'... to be the caretaker or the man  created to 'take over' from where God left off?'
Environmentalists who practice environmentalism, whether they consider themselves to be Christian or not, tend to be of the caretaker 'collective mentality' social imagination; and many of this 'caretaker imagination' tend to be on the extreme end of this collective mentality leading in the direction of worshiping the environment. Is there a danger in that? Yes. There is always a social danger when social actors become extreme in their beliefs ... behaviors and thus practice isms. It is dangerous when people of the caretaker 'collective mentality' social imagination put the environment first....before people especially when practiced as an ism as this has the tendency to morph into an extreme form. Any extreme practice of any ism is detrimental for society. Why? For the sociologist it is obvious... because, isms come and go...people matter most for society as without people there is no society.
Is there also the danger when people social actors of the 'collective mentality' social imagination believe in the subduing the earth as in taking over from where God left off? Of course, as this kind of thinking in an extreme practice of taking over can lead to control and  abusing the environment which also affects people/all of society. Ultimately, we as social scientists have to consider which is the greater of the two isms/evils? As a sociologist, it is a given that people are the most amazing creation. Therefore, I would have to say that the social imagination that worships the environment is most dangerous... the collective mentality that puts the environment before people as their main practice is an extreme and most dangerous for any society. This kind of collective mentality 'social imagination' can become the religion of environmentalism. As for the other extreme collective mentality that of taking over, we find it leads to one of the worst practices of isms: relativism. In sum, all forms of extreme behavior / isms are detrimental for society. Point being, when something is believed in strongly, it becomes a religion; often observed in isms: socialism, capitalism, communism, pluralism, structuralism, fatalism, Islamism, Protestantism, Catholicism, relativism, environmentalism....


  1. Relativism is simply the unwillingness to accept the obvious: that we live in an objective reality, not a completely subjective one. If we didn't, logic would vaporize and nothing would make sense. 1+1 would only equal 2 some of the time. Some days would never see the sun while other s would never see night. Time would stop and start and become unreliable. While relativism sounds nice to the person who is a moral coward and refuses to accept objective reality and it's consequences, if they were to ever experience a truly subjective reality, it would lead to insanity.