in category Sociology

Why are people so apathetic to social problems?

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Masters in Education from Nottingham University in the UK. Also studied Masters in Islamic Studies and Islamic Banking & Finance. Political activist with interests in Geopolitics, History and Phil ...
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Too often individuals are blamed for being lazy, ignorant or unsympathetic to the sufferings going on in the world.   In Sura Raad, Allah says: "Verily, Allaah will not change the condition of a people as long as they do not change themselves" [al-Ra'd 13:11] This is clarifying the obligation on mankind to not only bring about change, but they have teh ability to do so.  Richard Thaler's "Nudge" and Elliot Aronson's "The Social Animal" are helpful texts making similar points. Thaler argues how things are organised helps influence or nudge decision-making in a given direction so neutral designs do not exist. The chapters on conformity, mass communication, self-justification, aggression and prejudice reflect this humanistic outlook. Aronson exposes our basic need to conform, leaving us vulnerable to social influence and situational pressures.  Both point out our reliance on social institiutions, structures, laws, messaging, cues, nudges and signs to help us navigate life.  It is simply not possible to consider and explore all issues, so people generally trust what society has concluded and rely on it when making decisions in their lives.  Where the current social realm goes further than any before is institutionalised schooling - which conditions thinking, or its lack thereof, in social, political and metaphysical matters.  Professor Michael Apple of Winconsin University has written extensively of the ideological nature of schooling which ensures millions of children leave school without the language, concepts and paradigms to think about these issues - making it difficult if not impossible to address issues in these areas in any meaningful or substantive way.  Once they go through life, habits of thought and practice develop, so by old age when they have enough experience to contemplate these issues, these habits make it difficult to change thinking or practice.  To point the blame on the individual is acceptable where the individual is to blame - where matters are in his control, and he is able to address them and refuses. Otherwise to blame the individual for collective failure or matters beyond them is unjust.  The slaves of Pharaoh were not blamed by God for their miserable situation; they were blamed once they saw the truth of their situation, saw power being challenged and became aware of what was needed for change and opposed it or refused to follow it... and so it is in every tradition.  

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