In the face of horrific road incidents, public violence, rowdy parties and binge drinking, we are all wondering about our young people.
“Is it not rather strange that the young people raised under the influence of the selfish individualism and consumerism of recent decades get roundly criticised for behaving selfishly?”
“an adolescent version of the selfish destructiveness exhibited by so many of our economic elite in recent years?..
Why blame kids for behaving selfishly when our whole society is based on the idea that individuals acting in their own interests produce the optimum economic and social outcomes? This strange theory about human behaviour has helped create …economic and environmental crises, as well as high levels of social dysfunction..” Colin Long, Cultural Heritage Centre For Asia And The Pacific, Deakin University.
In the same article The Age comments on ‘A Good Childhood’ stating that this British report has found
“some of the worst rates of child unhappiness, poverty, family breakdown and child violence in the Western world”.
The report blames today’s ‘excessively individualistic ethos’ that emphasises greed and selfishness.
The author of this work, Oliver James, argues that today’s market economy with
“its emphasis on short-term jobs, a workaholic culture, rampant consumerism and worship of celebrity and the lifestyles of the rich and famous creates a crisis of desire, with depression, anxiety and substance abuse resulting..
you can clearly track the development of neo-liberal, selfish capitalism alongside the growth of mental and emotional distress, especially in western countries where individualism has been promoted and encouraged the most.”
We have an environmental as well as an economic crisis to deal with – we need a major shift in the way we think and act. Colin Long says we need a collective response to the future’s challenges.
“Rather than continuing with business as usual, trying to save a form of capitalism that views self-interest as the highest form of human emotion, we need an approach that views economic crisis, environmental deterioration and social dysfunction as indicators that things have to be done differently…
Responding to climate change and economic crisis in a positive, collective, community-building way may be the great opportunity we need to rebuild belonging and meaning within our fragmented societies…
After all if you find a drunk lying in the street semi-conscious, you don’t prop him back up at the bar and give him another drink.”
The first ripples of change?