Social Issues

Environmental Degradation

The exploitation of the natural world has reached a point that endangers all life on our planet. Such exploitation is the result of various forms of death denial and can be reversed.

Destruction and unsustainable exploitation of world resources continues despite dire warnings of the scientific community and a small minority of activists. The violence our society commits upon our fellow animals, our natural habitat, and the world’s life-sustaining resources is linked to many of the same causes of overt violence against one another. Just as the members of society are in unconscious denial of their many attempts to overcome death anxiety, they are similarly in denial of the inevitable result of their actions in degrading the environment. Our society dangerously values the illusion of control exercised over nature, and by extension, over life and death. We call on all people to defend our shared environment from the exploiters who will leave us with no home to sustain us. We favor rigorous scientific study and unambiguous discussion of our environmental problems resulting in bold action to reverse environmental degradation.

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War and Violence

Violence of all kinds, and particularly war, will be greatly reduced when individuals, societies, and governments gain understanding of and confront the psychological reasons and causes.

State sponsored acts of violence, be they wars of aggression, torture, capital punishment, or extreme response to its citizens actions, are rooted in human death denial. Killing and causing harm are powerful psychologically symbolic acts that confer control over life and death to the perpetrator. Our society, immersed in a culture of war and its glorification, as well as violence in entertainment, sports, and control of our own citizens, uses violence as a crude, unnecessary form of heroism and antidote to death anxiety. We believe violence can be reduced when its true nature is revealed, discussed openly, and eliminated in its many forms. We reject violence as an answer to anything except extreme acts of self-preservation. We reject the widespread dependence on weapons as sources of false security and real danger. We favor peace and peaceful solutions to all human concerns.

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Social and Economic Inequality

Social and economic inequality is a cause of significant human suffering and its psychological reasons must be confronted.

The rise of inequality in our society has become alarming. We are living in a society in which the end of making money justifies the means, even when it results in exploiting the poorest and weakest among us and causing widespread economic weakness and occasional collapse. The wealthiest few are garnering more and more of our society’s resources, wealth, and benefits, while the large majority is left with anxiety, insecurity, and uncertainty. Social and economic inequality is inevitable to some degree, but taken to its present extreme, inequality weakens society. Social and economic superiority is a humanly constructed heroic fantasy and imperfect stratagem to overcome death anxiety. Our society’s skewed values rooted in materialism, greed, and social stratification based on heroic ownership, power, and fame leave little social satisfaction and opportunities for heroism for the common person. We believe that humanly constructed inequality can be reduced when its psychological purposes are revealed and the role of society in providing life satisfaction is enhanced. We reject inequality for being a subtle form of violence against one another. We promote equality under the law, in practical sharing of resources, and in conferring human respect and dignity to all people.

homeless woman

Social Problems

Society’s myriad problems: drug and alcohol dependency, addictions to shopping, sex, and gambling, obvious and subtle forms of racism, the world’s highest rate of incarceration and recidivism, violent crime, and a host of other social ills are best understood as resulting from the failure of our society to adequately deflect death anxiety.

Many of these problems and the human suffering they generate result from economic inequality and the state’s failure to treat its citizens with fairness. Other ills are the result of inadequate opportunities in our society for everyday heroism, meaning, and purpose as antidotes to death anxiety. In every case, serious and robust cultural criticism is needed to understand the problems and help initiate change. New forms of healthy heroism are needed as alternatives to toxic values and destructive heroism that leave people few alternatives for self-esteem. We reject treating these many social ills entirely as sins deserving of individual punishment or the result of weakness of character, failure to take responsibility for one’s own life, and other one- dimensional distortions of reality. We are in favor of treating the symptoms and the illnesses with compassion and developing intelligent attempts to get to the root causes.

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© 2017 Contemporary Heroism Initative