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How is Transformation Related to the Concepts of Trust and Truth - Essay Example

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Truth and Trust and Social Norms: Trauma and the Power of Context Despite common calls for authenticity and praise for truth, the public by and large does not search for or yearn for truth. What most people want, instead, is to believe that what they believe to be true is plausibly so, and that push come to shove, the world can be resolved by a belief system that accords well enough with how they see the world…
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How is Transformation Related to the Concepts of Trust and Truth
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Download file to see previous pages Only tragedy, or trauma, has the possibility of rattling these contextual cages, and thus opening up ourselves to new perspectives, and new truths. But to open ourselves up, we must experiences a process or event that fundamentally calls into questions the structure of the social agreement we trust to provide a sense of external validity in our understanding of the world. Malcolm Gladwell identifies the power of this social agreement when he explains the Power of Context. While sociologists and psychologists seem set to battle over the cause of criminal activity (inherent psychological traits or conditioning from trauma vs. large scale environmental factors that erode community institutions and thus beget crime), Gladwell suggests that the “Power of Context is an environmental argument. It says that behavior is a function of social context. But it is a very strange kind of environmentalism... The Power of Context says that what really matters is little things. (Gladwell 242). Instead of the big picture issues that liberals might associate with crime, Gladwell highlights the importance of minutia—broken windows, graffiti—that might influence and trigger criminal behavior. These sorts of conditions function as catalysts, enabling behavior that would seem grossly inappropriate in other contexts. The horrible assault and brutal killing of Matthew Shepard provides a chilling case-in-point. The collection of males who thought of themselves as men—manly men—who found themselves threatened by Shepard's revelation that he was gay, moved from a bar conversation to a chilling beating. Had that conversation been elsewhere, had those boys not been together on that particular night, had they not felt that masculinity was tied in multiple ways and in myriad instances to the strength of their heterosexuality, the events of that night might never have taken place. These “essential facts” (Loffreda 373) were themselves circumstantial, in the non-legal sense of the word. Whatever the norms that gave rise to the attack, they floundered when the attack itself was brought to trial. Loffreda explains that “After each count, Castor recited 'the essential facts' supporting the charge, in what became a truly grim ritual of repetition... During the incident, the victim was begging for his life. The subject then left the area, leaving the victim for dead.' By the third time Cator read that Matt had begged for his life, the courtroom had become choked with sickness and grief. The true darkness of the crime had become impossible to flee (Loffreda 373). This impossibility is precisely what makes transformation possible. One could no longer escape into the narrow constraints of those trusted contexts that helped to provide a foundation for one's world-view. If Gladwell is right about the Power of Context, that “our inner states are the result of our outer circumstances” (Gladwell 243), here was a situation in which the outer circumstances demanded change. That this change resulted from a trauma both profoundly personal and public cannot be overstated. Such a disruption calls into question what we trust, and thus what we hold to be true. That being said, the shift in the communal norms does not imply ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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