Thursday, May 18, 2017

Just 2 Culture Notes

The appetites we have are all perhaps natural, but do they rule our lives?  Should they?  Here are two examples from western culture.

1. How much is enough?
Starbucks former CEO, now Executive Chairman, is worth $3+ Billion and gets paid $21.7 Million each year.

He's in the top echelon for income in the US, and there are thousands more like him; folks with incomes in the $millions annually.

The lower half of individual wage earners in the US average $12.7k, net (after taxes).  That's the lower economic 50%, 80 million working folks who pay taxes. (Per SSA wage statistics for 2015)

Households depend on more than one income, The lower 90% of U.S. households average $30.7k net (after taxes).  A full-time Starbucks store supervisor nets about $21.6k.

There's a measure of validity in rewarding a workman for his labor, of course.  There's also the issue of exploiting the labor of others for personal gain.  Is there anything wrong with the current GAP between the extraordinarily rich and the labor-force that produced their wealth? Is the greed we see on Wall Street and elsewhere okay, or is it deadly?

Giving government the job of regulating ethical business standards hasn't worked well.  Curious where else that particular failure has spilled over?  Here's just one more.

2. Does it matter what you see?

In the 50's, children and dogs ran free, and no one worried about them.  We all walked to school or rode our bikes.  On the weekends, we didn't follow any particular plan, and our parents weren't worried as long as we were home before the streetlights came on.  Today ...?

Today, children aren't left unattended in the mornings while they wait for the school bus.  They aren't left unsupervised on the playground.  We don't let them wander alone, and we have a particular concern about strangers, especially men.  Our culture has changed ...

Abuse of minors, trafficking, and exploitation have increased since the 60's.  Pornography is now a multibillion dollar industry and available to youth worldwide.  Sexualization is a centerpiece of the advertising and entertainment industries (sex sells) and is increasingly presented to younger audiences.  And it's all legal.  Government regulation hasn't preserved the cultural safety our children used to enjoy.  It couldn't, of course.  All of us and everyone we know are regularly exposed to such content as part of advertisements, movies, sitcoms, and reality shows.  And the news.  Moral standards have become ambiguous and traditional families are in decline.

What we see (as individuals or as a culture) is a brain changer.  Not just an annoyance or a distraction, it actually changes our physical brain structures, content, and processes.  Here's how:
  • Our brains are constantly changing and being transformed by our experiences and what we see, hear, and feel.  Example: When you sit and watch a movie, your brain is changing according to the images you see and the emotions you feel. Your brain is structurally different after that movie than it was before. (Makes you think twice about what you are watching.)
  • Our thoughts influence our physical health, our emotions, and our behavior. What you think will set the course for your life.
With that in mind, here's just one of the visual exposure aspects of today's culture:
  • Porn sites today receive more regular traffic than Netflix, Amazon, & Twitter combined. (HuffPost)  
  • The most common porn role is women in their 20’s portraying teenagers. (JM)  (IWF)
  • The child pornography market exploded with the advent of the internet and advanced digital technology.  (US-DOJ)  In '07, the FBI identified 130,000+ child porn sites.
  • In 2016, 4.5 billion hours were spent on the world’s largest porn site. (PH Analytics) And, that's just one site.
Just one site's statistics ...
So what does that mean for the culture in which we and our children live?
What goes on inside of us (as individuals or as a culture) will eventually show up on the outside.
    “You have been experiencing the effects of your thoughts your entire life.” ~Dr. Caroline Leaf

Is there a healthy path forward for our culture or for us individually?  Any good news?   Of course.  Truth is unchangeable.  Everything else changes. 
We've been given a baseline on which to build our lives and raise our children, but the environment that surrounds us is toxic.  It's a battleground, and government is not the solution.  We should plan accordingly.
As a youngster, I was told with a smile ...

 Things are not as they seem.
    You were born into a world at war.
       Everything you do counts. 

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