Free Fiction, Reality and Society Essay Sample

Fiction is in most cases shown on TV and members of nuclear families tend to prefer this in their watching. Quite often those who are used to watching fiction movies and actions tend to be depressed when they miss them. People who do not achieve this may dislike others in the society due to jealousy. Such families may also pretend to be running normally due to the fear of what the society would think of them. An example is in the Bechdel's family where the family kept running while appearing to be normal to the society while in reality nothing was normal.

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The father was afraid to come out of the closet because it was not appropriate at that time. The fear was that people see him differently and end up labeling as someone else and eventually talk about him behind his back. It was for this reason that he wanted to appear normal to escape the harsh judgment from the society. Her mother despite knowing that her husband was having affairs with other women could not leave him for the fear of what people in the society would say of him. In addition she would not be able to support herself without her husband. She was very skeptical of her daughter moving out because she thought it wasn't normal and requested her to only do so when she was sure about it.

Coontz says of how people are not happy with the image portrayed and mentions that people who tried to live up to those standards in the fifties ended up affecting their relationships negatively (Coontz, 2000). Also, as it can be seen in Bechdel's memoir how her mother's face changed from being happy and excited about life to dull and depressed scenarios in her pictures later in life. In most instances in life, we tend to stereotype and judge people by their physical appearance and end up making premature conclusions about people before knowing them properly. This is due to the reason that we always want to belong to a group and avoid being outsiders (Bechdel, 2006). We do not treat people who do not belong to our social group equally because that is not accepted to be right in the society. Not everybody would want to treat people like this but majority of people fall under this category.

Bechdel mentions how we prefer fiction to reality and Coontz confirms this by giving an example of how kids change their idea of vacation over time. They list all the good and bad things that happen during their vacation and the list would eventually be equal. With time the good things outweigh the bad things and children end up having a vacation that would be described as ideal. This is common to human nature as we would want situations to appear great at tender age even when things could be tough in reality. Small children will always want to glorify their parents believing that they are better than al other parents.

Through the fiction book "War is the force that gives us meaning," Hedges who is the author, argues that people are alike in many ways and this has been elaborated in various texts that we have used throughout the semester. Even in a war situation an enemy does his best because they are like us. In order to be successful in war we need to dislike the enemy and create a feeling of revenge by assuming that the enemy does terrible things. In our normal society, this can be achieved through the propaganda in the media such as TVs and newspapers. U.S. has for example managed to create a bad image about the people from Middle East that they are terrorists and hence damaging their reputation with false allegations. In a war situation people understand that their enemies are like them and therefore it becomes difficult to kill them. Killing would only be practiced for self defense or for survival tactics. The author's argument is that for one to be successful in war one has to stop liking himself first and be dehumanized. One has to stop liking other people in general and would lead to a soldier seeing his enemy as different people and hence killing them. Generally human beings promote conflicts for individual gains. 

In my opinion I think the author would support the claim that one should like himself first in order to like others. We should not try to live as per the requirements of our social norms but instead try to be who we are to be able to understand others easily.

Indeed it is fact that there are different systems of moral decision making. As we have learnt, utilitarians have always pointed out the need to weigh out the number of people likely to benefit from a certain action as opposed to just an individual benefiting. Guided by the principle of maxim; the greatest good benefiting the highest number, utilitarians point out that if an act is likely to benefit just a few individuals at the expense of the majority, then the morality of such an act is questionable and not legitimate. Appiah believes that, "each of us should do our fair share, but we cannot be required to do more (164)." He also mentions that "if you are the person in the best position to prevent something really awful, and it won't cost you much to do so, just do it (161)." He continues to say "whatever my obligations are to the poor far away, they cannot be enough, to trump my concerns for my family, my friends, my country; nor can an argument that every life matters require me to be indifferent to the fact that one of those lives is mine (165)." This tends to agree with Noberg-Hodge's position that relationships are the most important.

The above approach seems to support and benefit the concept of familism as opposed to individualism. Individualism maintains that an individual should make the decisions that benefit him first and make actions that are to the best of his interests first. The bottom-line of the matter here is that an individual is supposed to make moral decisions and choices from the values inculcated within him by the family (Jones, 2001).  Therefore, when making a decision, an individual should not only consider the elements that will benefit him personally but also consider decisions that relate to the required values.  The pitfall of individualism is that it assumes that people are able to make good decisions while in reality very few people are able to make wise or knowledgeable decisions (Vitell & Nwachukwu, 2003). Vitell continues to mention that individualism leads to a lack of commitment and accountability since one is not answerable to anybody else. Similarly, the other drawback of individualism is that it places the individual at the centre of human civilization, whereas man is a social creature with social tendencies (Ford, 2005). This leads to communal efforts such as social corporate responsibility in the business to be ignored.

On the other hand, Kantianism as explained by Kant maintains that the best way of determining the credibility and legitimacy of a moral decision would be to analyze the intention of the actor. In this case, it is not necessary for the analyst to only consider the results that emanate from an action. To expand on this, Kant maintains that the veracity behind the same standpoint is supported by the fact that one is able to carry out a good act while still harboring evil intentions (Trevino, 2000).  The flipside of the fact that it is possible to carry out an act that is seemingly evil or morally wrong may have been driven by a bad agenda. The first case for instance, was realized in the Life and Debt film where the US made contracts with Jamaican farmers for vegetable to appear like they are helping, but set quotas and certain standards for production that were difficult to attain. The Jamaican products did not fulfill the required standards in order to trade with the rest of the world and hence the farmers had no legal right to export their products. This ultimately caused a sinking economy and destruction of local businesses and agriculture in Jamaica but consequently benefiting the US firms. The second case is in Satrapi's Persepolis and Beah's The Long Way Gone where people were forced to do immoral activities. Kant maintained that for an act to be passed as having been based on moral decision making, it is required to have been done out of duty, or in the line of duty. The need to carry out state mission, carry out self defense, and also the need to exercise sound judgment are therefore covered herein.

Appiah's most important insight into and prescription for the construction of a moral and healthy self, both in times of crisis and in everyday living is Cosmopolitanism. The author continues to define this concept as having two perspectives. The first one is the idea that we have obligations beyond those people who are close to us, while the other perspective suggests that we should take interest in the lives, practices and beliefs of others (Appiah). The author adds that people now have more access to one another through internet, media and travel. This can be used to learn from one another in the global community as it also affects lives of people across the planet. He encourages us to embrace both local and universal allegiances in order to construct a moral and a healthy self. He believes that the only way to to understand others is by listening to them. Once you listen to their story you might relate to it and understand where they are coming from. This does not necessarily imply that we should agree with them, but at least to let them have their decision as well.

Beah's most significant insight into the prescription for the construction of a moral and healthy self, both in times of crisis and in everyday living, is the notion that we shouldn't be too quick to judge others. Sometimes people are forced by circumstances to act in a certain way as in a case of a civil war. "People stopped trusting each other, and every stranger became an enemy," because of the fear which accompanies a war situation. In a situation where something less extreme than a war happens and people surpass the fear of others and not judge them from their actions, then an understanding environment may be achieved. Understanding them may give them another chance in life and this can be related to the global issues in the contemporary society.

Morris' most crucial insight into the prescription for the construction of a moral and healthy self, both in times of crisis and in everyday living, is that one has to accept who he is and stop looking for perfection in things. In this world, things are not expected to be perfect and it will only be wise if people understand this so as to accept situations the way they are. Once they accept themselves the way they are, they are in a better position to understand others and this is important in making decisions in times of crisis or in daily living. The author strongly believes that there is comfort in compromise and collaboration and perhaps this could be of great benefit to the citizens of this world.


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