The relationship between social and health problems
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The term Social Problems is a misnomer and is an admission of the fact that the actual nature and constitution of the situation has not been deliberated at depth. When senior people see that the rules and behavioural patterns they have held so dear are getting challenged they term it as creation of problems.
Criticising the social order that is emerging is the easiest way to admit defeat. The brave and sensible way is to accept the challenges and find ways and means of retaining the value system – may be with certain modifications – that has been followed for generations. In this way the young generation can adjust to the social changes and yet remain healthy and flourish in life.
The present day health issues are very closely related to the current social set up and coming into existence of a new set of social norms and values. While most of the social norms and values are traceable to and intimately related to the economic factors yet there is a trend of getting carried away by foreign cultures and their different social bearings. The pressure on the present day youth for being economically successful is very high and this gives a peculiar dimension to these ‘youngsters’ way of life which is enormously different to the type of pressures felt by the previous generations.
While on one hand parents expect their children to become successful – which is a decent way of saying that they earn pots and pots of money – on the other the boys and girls are expected to follow the same set of social rules which has been followed by the ‘elders’ for generations. Thus the social problems have many causes but one significant reason is the inability of the older generations to accept and adjust to the changes in the society which is inevitable.
The main problem that surfaced is that previous generation weighed the social structure of today by the norms and values that were taught to them quite a few decades back. The ground reality has changed rapidly and the senior generations are still getting guided by the rules of the game of yesteryears. The world is changing faster than it ever did before and the changes are not only very wide and rapid but are also very deep penetrating. Thus the changes are in effect causing social ‘evils’ as seen by the previous outlook but in reality the developments of the world is going on for centuries and what is being called as social problems is a manifestation of the inability to change and adjust to the new life order.
As stated in the introduction above, it is evident that there is need to face the societal changes that are coming up every day. In order to examine the situation in depth, three generation of society were interviewed to get to the bottom of the problem. The first were the generation of grandparents – who learned their ways of life some fifty to sixty years back.
The next set consisted of parents i.e. father and mother group of today’s youngsters and they learned what they believe to be correct social norms some twenty-five to thirty year back. The final subset consisted of growing boys and girls of today and consisted of college and university students. These are the people who are bearing the brunt of the social problems which in turn is having a serious effect on their health.
The first set of people consisting of grandparents carried fixed and set ideas about what the societal norms and beliefs are supposed to be. They saw no reason for changing those norms and beliefs. The behavioral norms were very strictly defined and centered around simple living and high thinking with very little emphasis and importance – if any at all – being paid to the economic progress and well being.
They had lived their life in a very definite way and firmly believed that what was good for them is also god for their grandchildren today. Above all, their firm belief that ‘one size fits all’ concept as far as social behavior is concerned was much too firm for accommodating any updating necessitated by the present day life style. This brought about the severe view of the present day social interactions and the resultant problems. They knew that they had lived their life and were in no mood to accommodate or even tolerate the changing pattern of social values and norms. The best thing is that – in fact it should be called the worst thing – is that his set of people failed to see the few very good aspects of the changing patterns of social behavior. They invariably were quick to point out the drawbacks without for a moment acknowledging the good and beneficial aspects of the emerging new social order.
The second set of people who were interviewed represented the parents. This group had its own problems. They fully appreciated the beneficial aspects of the change but were hesitant to admit the same since it clashed with what they were taught as the ideal way of social behavior. They too saw the problems of the present social setups and behavioral patterns but at the same time knew that there is no stopping of the changes coming about.
Further they saw the new order did bring new problems but at the same time it encouraged the democratic institutions so very necessary for the well being of the future generations. They wanted to break away from the traditional social order and get into the flow of development of the new order. However, they had reached an age where they were unable to be adventurous and were cautious about accepting the changes.
This gave rise to a very unbalanced state since while in their heart of hearts they knew that what was seen as social problems were more of aberrations of their viewing the outcomes than causing difficulties for the new generations.
Yes, they wanted their children to bag high-pay job offers but at the same time wanted their children to stick to the ‘five prayers a day’ schedule despite the demands of their job conditions. This kind of situation is prevalent not only in the Middle East but such situation also exists in most of the emerging economies like Brazil, India, China, Pakistan etc.
This group, like the previous group of grandparents, also quickly saw the social problems – but with a difference. This group simultaneously tried to find a solution which would accommodate the social change and at the same time keep a balance with the past so that the health (both mental as well as physical) hazards were contained. This is a very healthy indicator of the changes in social order being slowly accepted and though it is a slow process but it is a sure process. The present social norms have taken centuries to develop; it is very likely that the new social order will take some time to settle down.
The last group consisted of the people of the below twenty-five age group. The first priority for this group was a better and more comfortable way of life. They valued democracy in all walks of life. They carried no negative feelings for the age old systems and gave full credit to the social order which has seen their predecessors to reach the current state.
Yet when any of the social behavioral patterns got into the way of their achieving the goal they so cherished they did not hesitate to set aside the existing social norms. They were ready to burn the midnight lamp if that meant getting higher grades which would translate into their landing better jobs. Yes this was a potential health hazard but it also promised attainment of their dream goals. These groups wanted to make it big and for achieving this they were ready to take on with a ‘no-holds-barred’ situation.
Good health is basic pre- requisite of good life. Without having good heath one will lose the very capacity for any human pursuit – from the grossest to the subtlest. He will not be able to enjoy the fruits of his toil. Health does not mean absence of diseases but it implies the possession and cultivation of a physically fit, morally strong and mentally alert individual who is able to meet the physical demands of life pursuits with full vigour and enthusiasm.
The present day society seeks comforts, conveniences and freedom from drudgeries and wants to avoid working on monotonous, back-breaking and tedious chores from dawn to dusk – except out of compulsion. They prefer freedom from all hindrances and choose democratic way of life. Democracy for them is not just a merely form of government but it is a foundational societal value and hence they prefer a democratic society. In such a preferred democratic society values of freedom, equality, respect for the individual, collective decision making and the right to dissent should be inbuilt into the social arrangements and transactions. The young people with a democratic bent of mind respected the rights and freedoms of other people.
They treated people at the level of equality and were tolerant of the views and opinions which were different from their own. When they were invested with authority they would use it with care and that too for the common benefit of people. Instead of imposing their views on others they would look for a consensus solution for making any collective decision. While the first group (grandparents) stood out by their intolerant attitude, this group of young citizens were endowed with refined, liberal and humanistic values.
Though the members of the first group found the young people as creators of all trouble and labelled them as ‘rebels’ the younger generation were accepting their new found status of that of a rebel with alarming ease and comfort.
They knew that if they stuck to the ways of the senior citizens then the possibilities of their realising their dreams of making it big would never materialise. There is ample historical evidence which go to prove that change – be it social, economic, technological or even environment – are all here to stay. Either one makes himself capable to adjust to the change or the process of change will eliminate them for good.
Now, SOCIETY is an organisation for cooperative working to ensure human development, through production and distribution of sharable social goods. Society is made up of various constituents like individuals, different classes and groups, social, economic institutions and many more. In UAE and other Middle East countries the individual goals and the collective goals are often in conflict with each other.
Yet the main objective of any developing and healthy society is to ensure human development which is not restricted to social, political, economic issues but also the development of the members on a total basis which would include health, formality and above all the value system of life.
As stated earlier, one of the major aim of any society is to ensure production and distribution of sharable social goods like roads, transportation, water, electricity, health care and a host of other facilities. Opportunities and means of gainful employment, jobs, career and other rightful and legitimate means of seeking personal economic betterment are also to be treated as part of sharable social goods.
Thus, the social changes taking place in every country and in every society aim at providing better opportunities and means of gainful employment and suitable jobs to the members of the society. There is no harm if the young people of today seek better standards of living and are prepared to dissociate themselves from the social norms which prevent their advancement in life.
To sum up the entire picture it is necessary to understand that the so called Social problems are the result of the failure to appreciate the wisdom behind each and every change that is taking place in the world around.
Older people who have lived their lives may conveniently call such changes as resulting in problems causing health hazards but such changes are for ‘GREATER GOOD’ and hence should be accepted if not welcomed. The budding Engineer or Manager or Professor faces an uphill task and shying away from sharing the gains available today is certainly not wise. Though the severe challenges may prove to be a health hazard in the short run but over time people will learn to cope with it and emerge the winner.
Thus finding faults with the social problems is the weak person’s way of handling the changes taking place in the milieu. A strong and healthy individual will take the bull by its horns and will certainly succeed in controlling the social changes to his advantage.
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