Consumed by saturdayxiii
Feb 5, 2023 • 4 min read • #systemic #society #thoughts #racism #ignorance

The Me in the Machine

The greatest bit of knowledge shaping my life these days is my growing awareness of separating individuals from their systems. The relationship of people and their systems, institutions, society, etc is apparent to most anyone, but few people seem to exercise this understanding. Especially when it comes to empathy and education. I hope that I will have a better, more rounded analogy to demonstrate this in the future, but in the meantime there are plenty of examples to jump start this thought process.

The easy recent hot topic, which admitantly I haven’t researched the exact situation since the general scenario benefited my mindset so well, is the multiple black police officers who are being charged for the deaths of individuals they arrest. Reactionaries are quick to cry out that this is proof that all the protests and outcry against black violence from a racist system is misguided. How could black on black violence be racially motivated? Meanwhile, the rest of us know that this is evidence which benefits the progressive accusation.

It doesn’t matter the race of the perpetrators when its the system that is being accused. The system belongs to our dominate white society, and the victims are overwhelmingly visible minorties. There’s actually been multiple cases popping up with black officers being charged. It raises the question of why, after such struggle to have white officers charged for blatant abuse and improper conduct, is the system suddenly having such an easy time charging black officers? Your racist childhood friend might suggest that this is beause black people are inherently more violent. It’s okay. Remind them that black officers weren’t being charged for violence until white officers were threatened, but don’t waste your energy fighting them. When we come to understand the relationships of individuals and systems, we can afford individuals a little more space to be incorrect. Individuals naturally have values and beliefs. It’s our systems which benefit the most from rules and facts.

Of course, systems are made up of individuals, so we need to be aware of individual status in order to be aware of system status, but individuals are allowed to deviate. Consider addiction. Alcohol is addicting. Television is not addicting. Our current societial system acknowledges these statements, but that doesn’t mean that individuals can’t consume alcohol without dependancy, nor develop dependency to television. A good society aims to afford its individuals both pleasures and relief from struggles. Individuals need to be heard for a system to benefit them, but individuals need to know how to communicate to the system rather than becoming aggressive with other incongruent individuals who aren’t equipped to help.

Individuals are never equipped to help systemic problems. Our greatest powers and assets are directly intertwined in systems. This has been the most useful observation to me personally. A brain is a fine system. It gets you by day to day. Having a writing system, which involves the brain but ultimately is external to it, will get you by year to year. A collection of writings can help many people, possibly over lifetimes. So far this has all been achieveable by individuals. However there are even further benefits to databases of writings, databases of collections, and even databases of databases. These require systems of individuals to cooperate and manage in order to extract the most benefits. Databases trump collections as they group and compare relavant data.

An individual can potentially be well versed in a small database and extract a lot of benefit from it, but getting the most out of a typical lifetime requires information that could fill many many databases. Individuals don’t need to know everything, but they most benefit from understanding how to navigate our system of databases to find trustful, helpful information, and most people in our society do not. That’s why we have chiropracters giving advice on virology, or enthusiasts of cultural folklore thinking they understand more than archelogists or even geologists. It’s not bad to have individual opinions, layman understanding, or even systems of unvocalized cultural knowledge, that’s just how our humans work. It is problematic though when we misplace trust or importance in the least accurate systems.

So I guess it comes down to energy allocation. I have a much better time knowing that there isn’t a benefit to fighting with my ignorant, racist childhood friends, especially when they are still part of a social system that rewards them for being so. They can be a jerk if they want. As much as I can be a jerk to them for their views. I’d love to have them understand that their individualistic observations aren’t satisfying in light of a properly databased system of information… but they never seem to care. I will step in if they are being or preparing to be destructive to other individuals. I will step in to help an individual to the extent that I am able with the knowledge that I am not fixing their system of problems. I will place my real energies and strategies into changing the system which creates problemed and problematic individuals.

Post by: saturdayxiii