2020 Vision for Behaviour
In the ‘2020 Vision’ Daily Paradoxes, Behaviour sits top of the list of current needs. Everyone thinks that they know what good behavior is. By our definition, they don’t. Of course, most of the people we meet and see are polite, up to their own standards. They don’t use unacceptably bad language. They are not rude. They don’t shout in church, unless invited to do so. They are generous – often extremely so. They conform to society’s current rules.
But are they helping society develop sustainable standards of behaviour? Again, up to a point. They may be bringing up children, helping with grandchildren, caring for the old. All their good behaviours are demanding – and valuable in shaping – an acceptable society. Their influence is part modeling and part instruction. It is localised and concentrated, so it is powerful. Fifty years ago it would have been perhaps 80% of young people’s learning and maybe 90% of the attention their elders got. Today the figures may be 30% and 40%.
These illustrative guesses make the point. External influences are now more important than internal, localised ones. So the efforts parents and carers make are still immensely valuable but by themselves they will not create a standard of behavior future generations can call sustainable. Social media, conventional media and technologically driven communications are now more powerful and influential than personal behaviour modelling.
Parents and carers have far less influence over the media sources of behaviour learning. Some insist on screen-free time, assigning it to play time, family time and social-learning time. That is excellent. Unfortunately it is difficult to enforce – beyond a certain age virtually impossible to do so – and it is not the norm. Children and old people are very adept at making society’s behavior their own when it suits them. So society sets its own behavioural standards – up to a point.
It is a mobile point. For example, the pornographic element of TV series is now much freer than it was fifty years ago. Has that made life better? Some will try to argue that young people now have a healthier knowledge of and attitude towards sex. I think that is true but I don’t think we needed massive doses of pornography to promote sexual knowledge. Nor do I think the pornography that is displayed is helpful in forming people’s standards of behaviour.
If it was #METoo might not be necessary. I do not see why our control of pronography and violence should compromise the freedom of media that we need for political discourse and decision.
Are these key people in behavior-setting honest? Up to a point, of course. But the rules of tax returns, the level of acceptable ‘fiddles’ at work or other places of assembly have loosened greatly in the last few years, just as the authorities try to impose stricter and tougher rules. When it comes to lies, there are certain aspects of the law that actually require you to lie. For example if you have a car accident, your insurance company will tell you not to admit it was your fault, even if it was. The law sets its own standards of behaviour and they are not always good.
Almost top of the pile of behaviour problems created by the media is violence. Not even subject to the constraints that apply to pornography, violence is very appealing to frustrated, repressed natures – the sort you get in cities where there is no countryside to run off pent up anger and disappointment. There is increasing evidence that air pollution is also a contributor to personality change and the pictures of polluted cities should be enough to warn us that climate change is not just about planet destruction but may also drive us mad.
This could be a self-perpetuating cycle. Our general behaviour is what drives our climate disaster behaviour. If warped, so will be our response. You can see that happening already.
Who has to change this? I have heard many people say they can ignore doing anything about the climate as it is too big a problem and only governments can tackle it. Please can they tell me which government they think is able, willing and fit to do so? I’m blessed if I can find one.
The conclusion I come to is that all the good work done by the good with their children and old people can be undone – is being undone – because media behaviour is unacceptable. And the only people who can change that are those that have the power to do so – the voters, the business managers, the organisation controllers – and the governments that can be influenced by them. So, each good person is being asked to do even more to establish The New Behavioural Order.
Working beyond the immediate family they can have a massive influence on the external factors that determine how we live. There is no other way to determine better behaviour.
Your good example is worth spreading worldwide.
Please start to do so now.