NOTE: This piece was written in free-flow, stream of consciousness mode while thinking about social alienation. It should be viewed as prose. On reflection, I’m not sure there’s any meat with the potatoes.
Isolation and hopelessness are the seeds of social discontent and desperation. Left unattended, they transform into anger and resentment. When fertilized by happenstance (poverty or mental illness) or design (abuse, gang recruitment, cult worship, religious extremists), the seeds are transformed into rage, antisocial behavior, and ultimately sociopathic genocide.
This cancerous process of alienation is one of the root causes of social disorder and is the real enemy of democracy and capitalism. Establishing a sense of social connection, hope, and opportunity are the critical success factors necessary to break this vicious self-destructive cycle. It is a war we must wage on a societal and global level. We have seen the horrible impact that can result from the acts of an individual, be it on a college campus with guns or a suicidal bomber in a marketplace.
To win the war against sociopathic genocidal acts, we need to adapt a forest fire fighting paradigm. We need to smother the flare ups, remove the sources of fuel, and educate politicians and the populace on the dangers of careless acts. In the end, social engagement, education, and economic opportunity are the most effective weapons in this war.
Robert C. Steele
April 21, 2007