Constructing Our Sins: How social problems are a product of our beliefs about them – Part III: Consequences and Conclusions

One can make the argument that abuse is the natural order of things; that throughout history there has always been a winner, and always a loser. One can make the argument that the belief systems that have been identified in Part I exist because, in some way, they work, and the abuse is just an unfortunate cost of the system. However, in this system, even the people who have beaten themselves to the top suffer in this environment.

First of all, the gains within the environments that foster social aggression and abuse will not make the abuser or aggressor happy. Research on what truly makes people happy has theorized that happiness does not come from pleasure fulfillment alone, but  through the development and exercise of strengths and skills, using those skills in an engaging manner, and finding meaning by applying those skills to a meaningful cause that is bigger than yourself. Yet, as identified in Part I, one characteristic of environments that foster abuse and aggression is that aggression, not skills development, is focused on as a means for self-efficacy. So for even the people on top, the environment that allows them to abuse their victims precludes them from their own happiness. More importantly, as also mentioned, abusers assume aggression on the part of everyone in their environment. Aggressors need to abuse, because they feel their targets will abuse them. This creates a constant state of fear and terror the abuser has to live within. No matter how powerful they become, so long as they as they are within this environment that enables their abuse, they will be shadowed by the fear that they will be subject to the abuses they perpetrate on others. As such, even though they seem to enjoy a position of privileged, the abusers actually live in a world plagued by constant fear, paranoia, and terror; a rather disadvantageous state to be in.

Conclusion

The belief system outlined not only harms victims and creates problems that affects the general society, but also, in the long term, hurts the abusers as well. But how does one change the system?

First, people need to build environments that allow for coexistence instead of aggression. Since abuse is built on an assumption of aggressive intent, fixing this environment means allowing for other forms of interaction beyond aggression. Interpersonal engagement, negotiation, compromise, discussion, etc needs to not only be allowed, but fostered. People need to feel they can get what they want without taking from another, and at the same time, can give to another without actually losing freedom or self control. The full spectrum of human motivation needs to be acknowledged, not just the limited idea of aggressive motivation.

Second, attention must be given to the development of personal skills to fulfill needs. Aggressive people use aggression because they believe it will work for them. However, given the ultimate costs of aggression, the development of skills of negotiation, insight, compromise, positive self assertion, etc will ultimately work better. The more skills that can be developed to meet the needs, the less there will be the need to abuse a group of people to get what is wanted.

Hold people accountable for both the good and the bad of what they do, but be specific and do not generalize. Abusers like to blame their victims for their abuse, and usually that blame focuses on who they are, not what they have done. The one thing they don’t want is to be held responsible for their actions. So people need to know they will be responsible for their actions.

Remember people are people first. To abuse someone, you must first dehumanized him. This is why so much abuse often involves stereotyping and bigotry. If you want to stop abuses, you need to make the environment accept the humanity of the people within it.

Accept dissent. If you want to end abuse, you have to allow people to be more than just abusers, victims, or bystanders. This means you have to allow people to give their dissent, you have to allow for people to negotiate, and you have to allow people to intervene.

Finally, if you want to end abuse, you have to address it everywhere it shows up. If, as has been suggested, social aggression and abuse is a factor of this specific pattern of core beliefs, ideas, and attitudes, then the many abuses of the world are extensions of this problematic system. The abuse that manifests, then is a symptom of the problem, but not the cause. As such, you can’t be inconsistent and fight one abuse while allowing another, because in doing so, you are not actually dealing with the problem, just hiding the symptoms you find the most inconvenient. The moment you begin to chose which abuses to allow, you end up allowing them all.

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One thought on “Constructing Our Sins: How social problems are a product of our beliefs about them – Part III: Consequences and Conclusions

  1. Pingback: Constructing Our Sins: How social problems are a product of our beliefs about them – Part II: Real World Examples « Zachary Maichuk's Blog

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