Changing of America and humanity’s responsibility to society
The challenges of the twenty-first century, whether economic or environmental, cultural or biological will require new methods of thinking and behaving at both the individual and social levels.There must be an emphasis on changing the perceptions, particularly in twenty-first century America, which many people have about the nature of personal responsibility and personal empowerment.
While it seems obvious enough to say, as Barack Obama asserts that new generations of Americans are “waiting for a politics with the maturity to balance idealism and realism, to distinguish between what can and cannot be compromised” (Obama, 42) the ramifications of such a politics of maturity and realism extend to many important areas of American society including economics, technology, and philosophy adn religion.What is necessary for America to meet the challenges of the future is a social cultural acceptance of the fact that responsibility, and not merely the pursuit of self-interests, is a path to personal empowerment.
This last statement may seem contradictory to many Americans.
A great number of people view themselves in purely materialistic terms and want what they can get out of society without taking any personal responsibility for the consequences. For some people, life holds no meaning outside of its material dimension and this loss of meaning in American culture has consequences beyond the immediately personal: The loss of meaning[… ] is a product of modern thought. From Marx and Freud to neuroscience and evolutionary psychology, western thought has systematically undermined responsibility.
We have no choice, we are constantly told, because of economic forces, our unconscious, or our genes. Yet, at the same time, we live in a world that presents us with endless choices. (Sardar) As strange as it sounds, the only way to break the cycle of endless anxiety over our limitless freedom is by accepting responsibility for the choices we make. This is a kind of paradox in American society, “We want to have it both ways, and so we end up confused and cynical.
Our obsession with individuality and self-interest further erodes personal and collective responsibility” (Sardar) which means, the less one begins to value their own existence the less responsibility they will feel for their actions. To accept responsibility is, in itself, to accept that life is meaningful and to accept that life in meaningful is an act of self-empowerment. we must learn to understand that “Freedom is both a gift and a challenge. It has value only when we respect it and enhance it individually and collectively. And when we exercise it with responsibility. ” (Sardar).
In this way, a change in the basic philosophical vision present in American culture may help us to begin to make inroads against the challenges which face us in the new world. As Barack Obama points out, economics in the twenty-first century no longer function along the same models they had embodied for years. He writes that “In this more competitive global environment, the old corporate formula of steady profits and stodgy management no longer worked” (Obama, 156). What Obama is driving at with this statement can be considered an aspect of “humanizing” economics, a must-needed step for America in the twenty-first century.
By accepting responsibility for our actions we will understand the connections between the injustices and disparities in society and the damages which have been inflicted upon the environment. Though some of our challenges may be economic and some may be based in moral and ethical issues, the unifying factor is always: human responsibility. We begin to understand ourselves much more clearly and understand our challenges more clearly when we admit that we live in a world which “desperately needs fixing and in which denial is seductively easy and cheap, at least for a time.
We must acknowledge and seek to understand the connection between poverty, social injustice, and environmental degradation. ” (Orr 89) Barack Obama’s insistence that the new economics has paved a way clear of the old economics which stressed only self-interests and profits is a key to understanding the kind of view of business and corporate responsibility which will have to be embraced in American society as we move forward to accept our responsibilities and meet the challenges of the future.
Instead of viewing purely money and material growth as the only forms of “profit” in business, corporations of the future will begin to realize that “business behavior and government policy toward business requires, more than ever, an appreciation of the firm’s human dimensions, the dimensions left out of the neoclassical theory” (Tomer 1).
The future corporation will accept responsibility for its actions and view itself as shaped by not only “market forces but by societal ones” (Tomer 19) and in so recognizing other forms of “success” and “profit” namely, the maintaining of ethical and environmental standards which contribute to the overall growth and well-being of humanity may over-ride present-day obsession with self-interest and materialistic profit.
If Barack Obama’s writings in “The Audacity of Hope” are any real indication of the politician of the future — or the President of the future — it si clear that America still has the capacity to grown adn recognize leaders who can summon a bold-enough vision as well as present workable solutions to meet the challenges we have at least partially created for ourselves.