Tag Archives: social change

Precedence of Social Change in Print Media

An Analysis of the Precedence of Social Change in the Print Media

In a society as grand, as robust, and as diverse as America enjoys, it would be naïve to suggest that as a society we are perfect. Thus, change is necessary and inevitable. As a society, we not only have a right to pursue happiness, but arguably, an ethical responsibility to do so (Kymlicka, 2001; U.S. Const. amend. I). Although personal improvement is important, many times we achieve this through positive social change.

Positive social change indicates an effort by an individual or a group of individuals who attempt to influence a representative group of society to promote civic responsibility in a manner that might propagate beyond the initial effort to create a civic philosophy that improves the overall happiness of some percentage of society.

Emily Groves (2010), a writer for the Norwich Bulletin, wrote a recent article about the efforts of local community leaders, including Rep. Joe Courtney, to inspire civic responsibility and instill a greater understanding of the history surrounding the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the guiding principles and influences of the Founding Fathers. The program, “We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution” is a part of a national project of The Center for Civic Education.

In this front page article, Groves (2010) describes the positive impact that both Courtney and the program had on the participants. The high school students who participated were quoted to say that they have a higher appreciation of government and the role that they play as individual citizens.

Perhaps Rep. Courtney’s presence played a part in the article’s placement on the front page, but usually only the most dramatic of news stories find a home here, relegating good will stories to the back sections of the paper (Groves, 2010). The Norwich Bulletin, however, finds its readership located in what is commonly referred to the quiet corner of Connecticut. Good will articles are probably appreciated more here over the common drama of most mainstream newspapers. The Groves (2010) article shares the front page with a child welfare piece reporting an effort on improving conditions for children under the auspices of the Department of Children and Families (Rabe, 2010) and an article about a fundraiser to benefit a Catholic school that was closed (Scirbona, 2010). The Norwich Bulletin is certainly a community-centered newspaper.

If I were a regular subscriber to this newspaper, I would have read this article for a number of reasons. It is well written, well placed, and covers a subject of my interest. I am not, however, a regular subscriber to this or any other newspaper. Lately, I have found more value in searching for newsworthy topics on my own.

As I stated above, change is necessary and inevitable. Print media outlets, in my opinion, would serve their readership well by focusing on more of the positive strides that we take as a community and as a society. Just as we have a responsibility to pursue happiness along with the right to be able do so, the press has a responsibility to report truth, whether fact or opinion, along with the freedom to do so (Kymlicka, 2001; U.S. Const. amend. I).


Groves, E. (2010, September 18). Education: Courtney gives mock Congress real feel. Norwich Bulletin, 150(261), pp. A1, A7.

Kymlicka, W. (Ed.). (2001). The virtues and practices of democratic citizens. In Author, Contemporary political philosophy (2nd ed.; pp. 287-293). New York, NY: Oxford.

Rabe, J. (2010, September 18). Child welfare: Report: Abused children failed by DCF. Norwich Bulletin, 150(261), pp. A1, A7.

Scirbona, C. B. (2010, September 18). St. Mary Church fair: School closed, but Circle of Fun lives on. Norwich Bulletin, 150(261), pp. A1.

U.S. Const. amend. I.

Social Justice vs. Social Responsibility

Recently, I find myself reacting the most to the progressive social justice movement. Social justice, “often employed by the political left to describe a society with a greater degree of economic egalitarianism, which may be achieved through progressive taxation, income redistribution, or property redistribution” (Social justice, n.d., para. 2), is a political push towards socialism. I do not view this movement as socially responsible, and I will explain why.

I was a high school student during the Clinton presidency, and when he announced a national rebate based on the federal surplus of tax dollars. Though I believe the economic boon was due to comprehensive reforms under President Reagan, I will give President Clinton credit for maintaining it as long as he did. It was at this point that I decided that I needed to understand politics and economics in a way that would allow me to make more responsible choices as a voter. Since then, I have watched as Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama have squandered our money for their supporting political allies, forsaking the people of the United States.

I had considered myself a Democrat until I took the time to understand the simplistic nature of economics. Obviously disagreeing with left-wing politics, I analyzed the right and found much more of the same waste, fraud, deceit, and callousness in the Republican party. I found that I had to understand my own values before I could vote again. My values are much more in line with the libertarian philosophy that once made this country great. Libertarianism is about freedom, freedom to make choices, freedom to succeed, and most importantly, freedom to fail. For failure is the greatest teacher and motivator.

The United States is heading for a disastrous economic climate where millions of people who rely on government subsidy will find themselves without benefit. Government-subsidized social programs, such as welfare, Medicare, et al., are meant to be stop-gap measures designed to temporarily fix problems to extend the time available to find more permanent solutions. For welfare, short-term use precludes this necessity, but abuse assures the programs demise.

The greater social responsibility is understanding that as a member of our great society, and in order to help many, we need to support the survival of our society. This means that we, the individuals, need to be self-sufficient. This means that we, the communities, need to be self-sufficient. This means that we, the states, need to be self-sufficient. This means that the next larger government is there to help the next lower government recover from the unforseeable. As individuals, we need to rely on ourselves, our families, our neighbors, and our community before asking for a hand-out from the state, and we should never have to ask for hand-outs from the federal government.

This post may seem like political ideologue drivel, but I assure the reader that it is not. Some, like the author of our class text, would have you wave a sign for the sake of political or environmental activity (Loeb, 2010, p. 10), but I argue that if we all minded our own homes with such conviction, then no one would dare stand up to advocate diminishing us as people. So long as an action benefits society, it is socially responsible. And, I am socially responsible.


Loeb, P. R. (2010). Soul of a citizen (2nd ed.). New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin.

Social justice. (n.d.). In Webster’s online dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/definitions/Social+Justice

Defining Social Responsibility

Good and bad (or, evil) is as abstract an idea as happiness and sorrow or love and hate. Philosophers have created quite a name for themselves while devoting time to understanding the logic behind these abstract emotions. They have certainly tried even when there is no logic to speak of. Aristotle (350 B.C.E./1908) had gone to great lengths to explain the meaning and purpose of good. Unfortunately, this act of explanation seems more to have been an attempt to conceptualize ideas based on limited knowledge. After all, if we think something is good, then we thought it; therefore, it is a product of the mind and should be further thought about, or so philosophers would think. There is certainly a logical fallacy to many of Aristotle’s correlations. Aristotle describes the nature of man, “Now the mass of mankind are evidently quite slavish in their tastes, preferring a life suitable to beasts…” (Aristotle, 350 B.C.E./1908, p. 8). He continues, then, to juxtapose lower man with his sense of men of high regard, “…people of superior refinement … identify happiness with honour…” (Aristotle, 350 B.C.E./1908, p. 8). Although he continues to acknowledge the “superficial” (Aristotle, 350 B.C.E./1908, p. 8) quality of this comparison, it seems obvious that Aristotle is judging values based on an already prescribed value system. These fallacies, however, can be forgiven based on the underdeveloped states of these notions of value and virtue. Aristotle appears to have brought the abstract concept of good to light and available for many to contemplate. This, I believe, is good.

As Aristotle (350 B.C.E./1908) continues in his progression and digression of thoughts on virtues, he does seem to uncover a worthwhile virtue that is worthy in and of itself: happiness. Speaking in particular to Aristotle’s golden rule, or “a disposition to choose the mean” (Aristotle, 350 B.C.E./1908, p. 38), by maintaining a life devoid of excess and deficiency, one lives a virtuous life and strives towards attaining happiness. Aristotle also posits that, because of the nature of the mean between excess and deficiency, there can be no excess or deficiency of the mean.

As a health care provider, I see the effects of living a vicious life. Just a few hours ago, I responded to a woman suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). She probably acquired this disease from years of smoking tobacco. As a smoker, I know from seeing these patients how deadly and devastating smoking tobacco products can be; however, I still smoke. I do value the education that has been circulating to help smokers to quit (American Heart Association, n.d.; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, n.d.). As the mantra goes, knowledge is power. As a libertarian, however, I do not appreciate government restricting my right to smoke in certain private establishments based only on the risk to myself and others that might choose to frequent such establishments (An Act Concerning Secondhand Smoke in Work Places, 2003). I also do not appreciate the extreme taxes that I have to pay, though I do understand the impact on the health care system and the necessity of covering the associated costs of treating patients with COPD, though health care costs would actually increase by 4 to 7% if every person in our society quit (Barendregt, Bonneux, & van der Maas, 1997). Having mentioned that, I would probably support any referendum that made tobacco illegal.

Social responsibility, by definition, means to act within the values of society. As a free society, this concept places burdens on social change. It would be irresponsible of us to change our society without considering the ramifications. What will this change mean for us? What will this change mean for our children? Our grandchildren? To me, social responsibility requires social change by education and example, not imparting change by force. To me, this is responsible social change. Responsible social change will provide a concrete vision for attainment instead of some abstract conceptual utopia that never seems attainable, anyway.


American Heart Association. (n.d.). Cigarette smoking and cardiovascular disease. Retrieved from http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4545

An Act Concerning Secondhand Smoke in Work Places. 2003 CT Public Acts 03-45. 23 May 2003.

Aristotle. (1908). Nichomachean ethics (W. D. Ross, Trans.). (Original work published in 350 B.C.E.). Retrieved from http://books.google.com

Barendregt, J. J., Bonneux, L., & van der Maas, P.J. (1997). The health care costs of smoking. New England Journal of Medicine, 337, 1052-1057. doi:10.1056/NEJM199710093371506

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Smoking & tobacco use. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/