Exploring the Social Imagination

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Good People ~ The Big Picture that Liberals Miss!

Good People, a play by David Lindsay-Abaire is a story supposed to be about economic disparity and how people living in poverty or at the poverty line have it tougher than anyone else. 

"David Lindsay-Abaire pays his respects to his old South Boston neighborhood with this tough and tender play about the insurmountable class divide between those who make it out of this blue-collar Irish neighborhood and those who find themselves left behind. The scrappy characters have tremendous appeal, and the moral dilemma they grapple with—is it strength of character or just a few lucky breaks that determines a person's fate?—holds special significance in today's harsh economic climate." —Variety. "

Again, the play is about 'Southie' a Boston neighborhood where a night on the town means a few rounds of bingo, where this month's paycheck covers last month’s bills, and where Margie Walsh has just been let go from yet another job. Facing eviction and scrambling to catch a break, Margie thinks an old fling who's made it out of Southie might be her ticket to a fresh new start. Margie is about to risk what little she has left to find out. Lindsay-Abaire explores the struggles, shifting loyalties and unshakeable hopes that come with having next to nothing in America.

I can tell you that the play is much more than that and I even wonder if Lindsay-Abaire even knew it what he was doing; I mean if he really attempted to be so much deeper, letting his audience take in what they can and hoping that some would take in the 'Big Picture'. What is that 'big picture' in view of the play's script and characters? Good question and I am going to tell you and also tell you why liberals often miss the 'big picture'. Though I agree with Lindsay-Abaire for his exploring the struggles and loyalties in a lower class community... in the end, they have more than they think, certainly not next to nothing. And, this is not entirely appreciated when you read the critics.

Yes, the main character is a middle aged woman living with an adult cognitively disabled child, which we are led to believe she gave birth to likely as a teen mother. In the first scene of the play, we are introduced to her in the alley of a dollar store getting fired for being late. Not once, but many times and we are told that she was given many grace periods by the young boss whom she had known since he was a small child. Sadly, she begs him not to let her go but it comes down to his job or hers. He too is from 'Southie'. 

We meet Margie's friends, quite uncouth (vulgar) women  who too are from Southie and have done little with their lives.  One friend tells Margie that she saw her old boy friend and she should seek out him for a job, after all... he is a doctor. The other friend hounds and even threatens Margie that if she doesn't pay the rent (though knowing of her being fired and showing little sympathy) she will kick her out. There is another friend whom is not shown but we come to know her as Cookie and she lives on the streets... 

Margie takes this advice and nearly begs the old boyfriend who seems to feel sorry for her and invites her over to a party and maybe she can socially mingle and get a job prospect. The party gets cancelled and yet Margie goes thinking the doctor lied. The next scene, we meet the doctor and his African - American wife who are discussing their marital problems. Then, Margie shows up first meeting his wife. 

Interesting conversations ensue. Margie is loud and uncouth and tensions rise. At first, on the surface, we think it really is about economic disparity but it comes down to choices. Though Margie defends her choices and the doctor his we still feel sorry for Margie.  But, then Margie does the unthinkable and she declares that her disabled daughter is the doctor's. We never hear from their mouths that it is truly his... only accusations and assumptions. We don't know who to feel sorry for in this moment: Margie, the wife or the doctor. 

As the discussion heats up to a boiling or melt down point, we realize that it is about choices and not only that but sacrifices. It is this that liberals don't like. That a person can make a decison and it can be a willing sacrifice. Liberals want to blame. They want to blame society and economic disparity. They think that only if the State comes to 'Margie's' aide, her existence will be less a sacrifice and more materialisitc.  And, even more ridiculous, that 'the man - the doctor' should be blamed, he was supposed to be her hero.

Maybe he should have been, especially if he fathered the child but we learn something about Margie too and that is if she really had his baby, why wait all these years and throw it in his face and his wife's in order to gain at least rent moneyWe could assume that it was a case of date rape and she felt bad or that she really loved the boy (now doctor) and wanted to spare him the trouble of having a family knowing he was headed to university. 

We learn that Cookie died on the streets and all the women characters could barely express sympathy and one has to ask why they did not take her in at least out of the cold to sleep on the floor. We also learn that the doctor was a bad boy from Southie and almost killed someone. One has to ask how he came up in society having that kind of background. It was told to us in the dialogue between him and Margie and also the wife... the importance of having a Father. Not the State!

Yet, at the end we still have to wonder or ask, 'who pays' and that is the question. Who pays? Are you supposed to pay, or me? Is the State supposed (you and me) to pay for everyone's poor choice or poor circumstance? In the play, at the very end, the young boss from the dollar store paid for Margie's back rent. An act of kindness even in Southie. 

The real message or 'Big Picture' is not about economic disparity as much as it was about individual lives, 'good' people make bad choices, and they may or may not make sacrifices, and yet if they are really good people they can move forward in the place where they are, accepting their life and knowing that among other 'good' people in the same situation or place there is kindness (in the place where you are you can be kind) and hope.  

One thing that I understood clearly about 'good people' is that good people and bad people can be found everywhere and in every economic environment.  I would add that likely the doctor character will eventually experience the greater loss if were were to predict and write the sequel. Why? Because, now his wife (African-American) will always think (be haunted by the idea) that her husband does have a white daughter that he left behind even though it is likely not true. 

And, there is more on the doctor's plate which can go unnoticed as we think he is better off ... thus missing the big picture of his life. His existing marital problems were made known to us and we can assume probably stem from his own 'bad boy' background. Aside of that, he and his wife likely also struggle in their mixed race marriage which tries to thrive in a white collar class (being a doctor) society. Yet, none of the women characters seem to feel sorry for him. 

We are left grieving for them and yet sadly no one is grieving for the doctor of Southie! Though, I myself saw it in the eyes of the character as the curtain came down but then it could have been the actress who caught it who got it ... the message about good people and the big picture.

You see, good people can be anyone and anywhere and not State made!



Monday, February 27, 2017

Diversity in the Social Imagination!

What is diversity in the social imagination of a group? Diversity within a group exists but only as differences in personal style as in slightly different ways to express the same thing. Which can be  seen and appreciated as different styles and different uses for the same shared information.

There is another kind of diversity, a real and or true diversity and that is the diversity we experience outside of our group as we encounter other groups outside the social imagination of our group which is not the same social imagination we have.

You might even ask, how is the other group recognizable if they don't have the same social imagination? That's a fair question. You see, other groups outside our own are recognized by us simply for being human and we 'imagine' that they are both like us and not like us. We effectively use our group definition in an attempt to understand theirs. The process is called discrimination. We look at social differences, and that begins with obvious physical differences.

We see that our group is different as we compare basic distinctive qualities and behaviors which are  'discriminating'.  In this way, we understand not only who we are and are not and how they are and are not ... like us.  We look at other groups of people and begin discriminating by seeing observing obvious physical differences. We firstly take into consideration that other people are like us and we need to do this in order to even approach other people. Simply, we see that they are human and have likes 'preferences' and dislikes (we suppose) and are right to suppose like we do. They marry, have children, like music, go to work ... they live and die like humans do.

We consider too that their location as in geography could be similar offering us a kind of comfort zone; we know other people (we assume) see the sun during the day and the moon and stars at night. And yet, we also notice that other locations can be very different and even sometimes vastly different from our own and we could never imagine living there even if the sun rises and sets there too.

Being in a place has a lot to do with who we are and are not. We sometimes think we are the same as other people (other groups) because we are human beings and that alone somehow makes us the same. However, by doing that, we neglect the deeper meaning acquired by a group experiencing  being (coming from) in a place over time... its impacts on identity. Young people and I suppose older people too can look around a room or watch television news or see a movie depicting a 'variety' of styles and they think that's diversity.

Wrong, to call that diversity is 'window dressing' as in only seeing different styles of a self within a familiar group trying to represent themselves in an 'individual' way. We all represent ourselves to others within our own group. And, includes how we dress - clothing and hair styles within one group and we can be thus a little different and like it because we are comfortable with each other knowing that we are part of the same group, the same 'wider' context of social cohesiveness that comes from being in a place over time - the same social imagination.

True diversity exits only because we recognize and respect that other groups are really different in that they have different: world view, language, politics/culture, traditions, belief systems all acquired in a place over time. If we start to say that we are the same or wrong/bad, we actually destroy that unique 'true/real' diversity. And, in that recognition we find that we could never be like them.

Yes, of course, we can read history and learn that some people migrated and some people adopted other people's ways of doing things. But, in that adoption of information, only some of its meaning internalized as in made to 'fit'; there is no other way because then the information taken in was not different at all. When information is really different, we look for the tiniest bit that is similar and adopt that as in take it in and use some of its meaning as it applies to the place we are in.

Was there forced adoption of information/culture? Yes, and it usually never went well or ended well. The Roman Empire is a good example and so is British Imperialism in the not so far past. I am sure one can find animosity for American Manifest Destiny among native Americans and dislike for American corporations that spread their products from coast to coast and even around the world ... there was/is a book, "The McDonaldization of Society" by sociologist George Ritzer.

Reading that book, we see how one 'institution', though a fast food restaurant, could give a false sense of cohesiveness to people here and around the globe.  Even the idea that Americans have of 'our democracy is falsely thought to engage people in the same way everywhere.

Remember, if you like seeing other cultures perform doesn't mean you can't learn their 'dance'... but it won't have the same meaning for you as it does for them. And, don't be arrogant to think you can be them just because you can move your feet/hips like they do. You just mock them if you do. And if you try to impose upon them your kind of diversity... it will likely not end well. Why? Because, your kind of diversity is good only because in your group you share in the same social imagination... being different only in style. If you change another group's social imagination to be like yours, you lose true diversity and you end up destroying true diversity in the world.

Again, just because you can get a group of people together to all dance to the same music doesn't mean they hear it the same way you do as if you were hearing it within your own group. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Evolution is a Lie and Why imagined borders are Necessary in the Social Imagiantion!

Do you know the expression, "Kill two birds with one stone"? Well, this post is an attempt to do just that. And, one might even consider this post about three and not two  if we include social reality: evolution, borders and social reality.

How is evolution a lie in the social imagination? First, its a lie because reality exists only in the social imagination. Our reality, our 'social' reality is information that comes into our mind via light particles entering the eye transformed into chemicals read electronically by the brain. Now that process alone is simply mechanical so what makes social reality? Content, context... meaning processed by the brain and read by the mind, which projects a social imagination - social reality.

So, how does that make evolution a lie? Evolution if we take it seriously is only about the mechanics of the flesh and therefore has nothing to do with meaning and certainly nothing to do with answering the ultimate question, why and what for is all this about.

Life is energy+matter+ information. Information has a source and it is not only instrumental but informative in ways that are abstract - information is shared meaning not just instruction. If it were just instruction we would be plants. But, even plants as it is now being researched share meaning as do even simple celled organisms like the amoeba which has been observed using 'midwives' in cell division.

The simple cell is much more complex and the environment necessary for it even more complex. What came first... the simple cell or the complex environment for its existence to even take place?

British bio-chemist and author Michael Denton said this," Although the tiniest bacterial cells are incredibly small, each is in effect a veritable micro-miniaturized factory containing thousands of exquisitely designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery made up of 100, 000, 000,000 atoms far more complicated than any machine built by man and absolutely without parallel in the non-living world".

Not only is that an important an argument for creation, it also tells us that within systems borders are necessary for function. There is no run amok or basic rhyme of reason... there is distinction and purpose which was designed and is directed. A system does not function unless all parts are present simultaneously.

Now, you might think saying that and using the above as an argument for creation goes against the social imagination. If we are just imagining all this then creation is just our imagination. Yes, you are kind of right. But, whose imagination is it as all info for our imagination is coming from somewhere and someone. In fact, we would have no imagination at all if there was no source for our imagination.

Oh, the screaming... What about math and science? Sorry, but both math and science are only that which we make them out to be.  Both math and science  'appear' in our mind the same way in which all information comes to our mind described above.  Processed information being sent for purpose which is for us (allows us) to make sense of our being as in having meaning for us in a social reality and one could say gives us meaning to be in the social imagination.