The Perpetuation of Societal “Systems”

Ah, System of a Down. This song still rings so true. And I had to include the link as thinking about the system of systems got me thinking about this song.

So much of our lives today are controlled by various systems. We have the education system, the health care system, the welfare system, the prison system, systems of belief (religions of all sort), the systems of government, energy systems, non-profit systems of various sorts, and so on and so forth until thinking about it makes your head spin. And not all of these systems are necessarily as broken as the prison system in existence in America today, but there is a major problem with all of these entities. That problem is that regardless of the type of system in place, at some point the function of the system becomes almost entirely to perpetuate that system, so that the societal issues it was created to address becomes less and less relevant in comparison to the needs of that perpetuation. And that is when the systems become at best an annoyance to society and at worst, a very real danger.

We humans are so creative and so innovative, but then we get complacent, people start to feel greedy and power-hungry, and we get stuck in a rut, not always by our own choosing. There is, I fear, a dumbing-down and numbing effect by lingering too long in these ruts, though, and that is not healthy for us as a species.

I feel so much compassion for the people caught up in these systems too. So one of the questions that most interests me when I contemplate society breaking itself out of these societal ruts and growing to new potentials is: how do we transition those caught in the machine right now? If new energy is the future, then can we take the people currently drilling and transporting oil and working in nuclear plants and train them in the new technology? If America wanted to move to true national coverage for healthcare, can those working currently for private insurers have the opportunity to become employees in the new system? How would that even work? It’s interesting to think about.

As far as the American prison system goes, I have a story. My husband worked for the city where we lived in CA, and they had a fantastic program that worked with former convicts to train them and transition them for jobs once they got out of prison. The city went from having one of the highest recividity rates in the country to one of the lowest. And then they lost their grant money, because they weren’t one of the worst rates any more. So a program that worked lost their funding because it worked too well. The moral of that story is that you are more likely to keep your funding if merely skate along and show some improvement but not too much improvement. Such a backwards way of thinking to me.

What systems trap you the most? Which ones would you break out of? And which would you like to see society eventually shed itself of? I’m curious.

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