“Society is to blame” – it’s one of the most common slogans and catchphrases of our time. Just Google it and find out exactly what society is to blame – from crime to obesity, to teen pregnancy and bad parenting, you can guarantee that someone is blaming society for it.
Margaret Thatcher famously said that society doesn’t exist – words which critics have scoffed at, mocked and condemned since she stated them in 1987. Of course, what is usually overlooked is the rest of what Thatcher said:
“They are casting their problems at society. And, you know, there’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours.” (in an interview in ‘Women’s Own’)
The problem with blaming society is that we are liable to forget that we are individual men and women, with our own choices and will. Of course, blaming society denies personal responsibility. But more importantly, blaming society robs us of the will and power to change ourselves, and society – whatever it is.
Make no mistake – blaming society for individual and corporate problems will never lead to the creation of a better ‘society’, but can only lead to one that is worse.
Stay tuned for part two where I will unearth the origins of ‘society is to blame’ and explore the implications of this kind of thinking in our present time.
Photo by Jonas B