The Solution to Behavioural Degeneration is Mentorship
A social scientist has a responsibility of analysing the social contexts and come up with the workable options. Whereas a natural scientist has a laboratory, a social scientists lab is society.
The laboratory for a social scientist is in the environment. Through observation and interaction with fellow human beings, a social scientist can decipher the problem and analytically produce a proposed resolution. The difference between the two is that one may establish an absolute solution to a problem, while the other produces probabilistic options.
Since the onset of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in Kenya in March, there have been concerted efforts at establishing containment measures. Most of the effort was on the development and production of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, facemasks, hospital beds, and other personal protective equipment.
However, the software component was forgotten, only to surface when cases of sexual and gender-based violence were noted to be on the increase. Further, there was a need for mental health and psychosocial support services. A natural/hard scientist may not immediately understand the social engineering on these issues as a priority, as s/he would for the tangible tools and equipment.
On this backdrop, I explain the gap that exists in the society that needs social scientists to establish a path for engagement.
The Status of the Moral Fabric
A long time ago, there was a clearer distinction between law and morality. Whereas morality was the main guide for behaviour in society, laws were made and enforced by reward and punishment.
Thus, what is immorality is not proof of illegality. It is, for instance, good manners for children to vacate a seat for an elderly, but it is not illegal not to vacate. It is good practice in some communities to conduct cattle rustling, but it is illegal under the law.
Morality is the inner appeal to do good and avoid doing bad. It is guided by reason and conscience. Laws are universal, while morality is contextual.
The growing influence of modernity has greatly eroded morality. The society has become sensitive to rights, to the extent of trampling on the very social fabric that tied communities together.
The call of humanity has been watered down by the rights of individuals propagated by positive movements. Effectively, morality has been subjected to the whimsical interpretation, often leaning to short-term economic gain. Hence, morality is at the brink of a precipice.
On this understanding, society is experiencing an increase in crime and violence. The different age groups are fighting to outdo each other, leading to the neglect of the senior members of the society by the younger generation. For instance, the centennials consider themselves equal to the baby boomers. The centennials are so exposed to the internet and social media and are able to learn many things without adequate supervision.
Together with the late millennials, the Centennials drive the demand of the online content and are often driven by the desire for quick wins and instant gratification. This characterisation further punches holes to the moral fabric that once kept the society intact.
The need for instant gratification is demonstrated by the increase in corruption. To this category, success is measured by the cost of living of a person. This is indicated by the kind of house one lives in, the cost of clothing and the type of vehicle that one drives.
The generation is further sensitized their rights and freedoms more than duties and responsibilities. Most have a do-not-care attitude with an above-average sense of self-importance. Some would receive their phones while in meetings. This is indicative of their imagined sense of self-importance. They think the world revolves around them, and so they should respond to any call, any time.
This has also been witnessed in classes. When they are not talking on the phone, they are watching videos or listening to music on their handsets. Hence, their concentration on content delivery becomes compromised.
Causes and proposed solutions to the Problem
Poor parenting skills are partly to blame for the situation. There are cases of teenage parents who got pregnant before they were mature enough to bring up a child. Hence, there is need to have parenting sessions for people of reproductive age.
The shared experiences during the sessions may help the parent to understand the logic of the parenting style adopted. The elderly should also be asked to talk to young parents and their adolescent and adult children about parenting.
Secondly, success has been misinterpreted. A section of millennials and centennials define success in terms of monetary value. One would therefore use any available means to create wealth, irrespective of principles of integrity, transparency, and accountability.
There is a need to explain success in terms of the quality of both physical and mental life. This is created through networking and sustainability. Further, the message of philanthropy should be emphasised as a way of cohesion and people-to-people development.
Thirdly, the society is short of role models. There is a shortage of modelling in learning institutions, communities, religious forums and other social places. The role models should be vetted people of integrity whose success can be logically explained. They should be people who have risen gradually to their status. There have been stories of rich people whose rise to fame and riches is shrouded in mystery.
In conclusion, some of the problems in society are solvable through mentorship. Success should be measured by the difference one makes in someone’s life. Money is a means to an end and not an end in itself. Hence, money is a part of what defines success, but not success itself.
Good health, safe environment, empowered community, and good mental health is the key to the definition. The role models should awaken the giants in themselves and volunteer to build their communities.