The concept of subjects’ refusal to take self-accountability for their actions and how it impacts everything within an ideological state apparatus.Ari Lentini
Written April 21, 2019
This is a 21 page term paper that I wrote for my Critical Theory course. You can choose to either download the PDF or to read it in its entirety by scrolling down.
Being an introvert can be a blessing but a curse. You become a fly on the wall; you watch the world around you and can see things most do not. Typically, you become an empath and have this overwhelming amount of emotions coming from the people in your vicinity. Your observation skills become far beyond that of peers and fellow subjects alike. You start to notice more habits within humanity, which aren’t all good.
At a favorite restaurant, your father sits across from you. It’s not every day that he comes to spend time with you while you’re studying at college. Shortly after you have both finished eating, he pulls a folded piece of paper from his coat pocket. He reads from it, despite being in a public place that is packed to the brim, and begins to unloads the earth-shattering news. You sit there numb with tears rolling down your face as your father continues to read on about how your parents’ divorce process started and where they’re going from here. You notice the people around you start to stare in disbelief; your father is oblivious. He speaks of God and how he’s done no wrong in the eyes of God. You slowly go to your vehicle after he’s finished his speech and lifelessly go back to your apartment.
Over the next several months, you watch as the truth quickly unfolds before you. You observe the story change but most importantly, you have to watch your father change. You watch him lie in the name of his religion and refuse any accountability in the part he played in the divorce. He desperately latches himself onto your emotions in a feeble attempt for you to take a side, inevitably backfiring in the intentions he had. You spend hours, weeks, even months
attempting to process how one could so easily refuse accountability but you ignore it as best as you can.
As someone skilled in observation after countless hours spent honing your craft, you begin to notice things in the people around you as you did with your father. For example, the child at the store you visited. You saw him trip over his own untied shoelaces and watch as he points and screams that his sibling tripped him in order to avoid hearing his mother tell him “I told you to tie your shoes.” The mom you watched scream at the cashier for the store not having her item, refusing to accept the reality that she could have called ahead of time to make sure they had it. The constant observations of subjects’ innate ability to transform a situation and become dominate for the pointless reason of claiming innocence, where innocence is subjective and arbitrary. In a desperate attempt to regain your ignorance of your newly recognized observations of the issue of self-accountability, your friend offers to drive somewhere with you and you accept.
You’re in the passenger’s seat of a friend’s car. The music is good and the fresh air hitting your face from the open window allows this feeling of absolute serenity pour over you. You turn to your friend and smile but they’re focusing on making a turn that keeps you both safe. You blink. You hear the crunching of metal and the squealing of rubber. A scream erupts from the chaos of machinery that you cannot convince yourself was from you. You open your eyes to find the window that was just flowing air onto your face is gone. In its place is a strange bag filled with air that was unfamiliar to you before. The music is off and glass has found its
way into your mouth. You can hear your friend screaming in the distance and for some reason you cannot find it within yourself to move.
All at once, the reality of your new situation hits you like the car that just hit you. Your body begins to shake. Anger? Fear? Whatever the emotion may be, you scramble over the middle compartment and fall out of the driver’s side door. Shaking, you run to your friend that is screaming at the other driver. You watch as the woman frantically screams in broken English back that she wasn’t speeding. She wasn’t speeding. She didn’t see you. She didn’t know. She says nothing was her fault. She refuses any accountability, and you’re left sobbing on the sidewalk staring at what was once your safety smashed in on the side you had been sitting. The understanding of humanity’s need for innocence and lack of responsibility for anyone but themselves, which results in a lack of self-accountability, fills your mind and consumes every thought. After these events, more time is spent observing people in everyday scenarios and how people are desperately attempting to escape their ideology.
Ideology occurs all around us. It is how we communicate to the world and how we fit into societies, but what happens when we try to defy these ideological laws that dictate us quietly and undetected? What happens to the apparatuses in which we, as subjects, function within? In the modern-day American society, there are many people who are attempting to do such a thing without fully realizing what they are trying to accomplish. Subjects have ceased to be as empathetic as they once were and instead tend focus on themselves, almost to the point of narcissistic. The modern subject does things for themselves without considering what it may do to the world around them, both environmentally and with other subjects. While being internally absorbed may seem easier than being an active participant with others and the world itself, modern day subjects within the American society have become completely detached from their ideological state because of the inability to take self-accountability for their actions, lack empathy for anyone outside of their immediate family and show an obvious mistreatment of the environment.
Nowadays, the subject seems to have an overwhelming habit of refusing to take accountability for his or her actions. One of the many examples is through the crisis of mass shooting taking place within an academic setting. In a study performed by Vox, there were a total of 55 deaths that took place in 2018 within schools (Lopez 2018). This is an increase of 15 students since 1993, which was the highest number of deaths prior to 2018. While this in itself is a tragedy for family and the well being of students alike, nothing had really been done to solve this issue in America.
A now-famous advocate against school shootings and guns alike is a girl from a Parkland, Florida named Emma Gonzalez. She helped organize an anti-gun rally in Fort Lauderdale in order for her to speak her mind about the tragedy she and her fellow classmates were faced with (Pearl 2018). While bringing awareness can help spark change, it isn’t enough to enact necessary changes. Whether those changes are stricter gun laws or banning guns in its entirety is up for debate; the fact of the matter is that there are serious issues that are lacking any progress on getting fixed. The reality is that it is easier for subjects in a society to post prayers on social media than actually getting involved in some way, shape or form to actually impact change.
It is because of people like Emma Gonzalez that awareness regarding already existing issues have been brought into the light. For example, there is an issue that most members of the American society have been choosing to ignore, which is the issue of how shooters are treated depending on their race and gender. Social media plays a huge part in tragedies, as it has the power to paint a picture of the shooter in whatever way subjects deem more socially acceptable. The fact is that there have been enough shootings, especially school shootings, to understand that there is a specific demographic for shooters. When it comes to school shooters specifically, 97% of shooters are men while 79% of those men are white men, yet black men are the largest percentage of people in prisons (Xie 2014). Social media, since it plays such a huge role in how subjects view shooters, paints these white male shooters as something almost acceptable.
When it comes to social media articles about shooters, white or Latino killers are shown as these poor, mentally ill human beings that couldn’t find help prior to the incident which results in the general public to have sympathy. Meanwhile, blacks are portrayed as thugs and scum that couldn’t possibly have any mental health issues which inadvertently results in racial tension between blacks of all backgrounds and everyone else. No one quite understands that this excuse of mental illnesses for both whites and Latinos occurs almost 19 times more than black shooters (Jacobs 2018). This isn’t just a problem with school shooters but also a huge issue with terrorism.
People who were born in the late 1990’s to early 2000’s are people that have never known a world where terrorism wasn’t a constant issue. These are people who were growing up in the time after the World Trade Center was bombed and the war on terrorism began. These people have a very different outlook when it comes to terrorism. After recently speaking to a peer, something very important was brought to light. The people who have endured this war their entire lives, especially when they are Muslim, face a very different world. Muslims especially are assumed to be terrorists when, in reality, terrorists are a completely different breed of subjects.
Muslims are just as risk for terrorism as anyone else. This specific peer that I spoke with has been enduring the fact that their uncle’s temple gets bombed yearly since 2012 on the exact same day. On Easter 2019, places of worship within Sri Lanka were bombed and resulted in 207 people dying (BBC 2019). Muslims were affected by terrorists, yet there is still such stigma against Muslims. Going back to shooters, Muslims along with blacks are not painted in the same way white or Latino/a shooters are in regards to blaming mental health. With social media painting this potentially false information of mental health when regarding shooters, social media also prolongs the stigma of mental health in general.
The stigma of mental health has been in effect for quite some time. The stigma can actually be traced back to ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, who claimed that mental illness was a religious issue (A Brief History of Mental Illness and the U.S. Mental Health Care System). Today, it is seen as subjects overreacting and are met with statements such as “It’s all in your own head” or “Just be happy!” Again, it is easier for people to disregard things they cannot understand or cannot simply fix easily. What most of the population with a healthy mentality really don’t understand is that mental health is just as important as a broken bone or the flu.
Mental illness, like most physical illnesses, comes with early symptoms that can be easily caught if one knows what they’re looking for. Examples of these early symptoms are a change in energy levels, change in the amount of social interaction someone has, eating habits and sleeping habits (What Is Mental Health?). Despite what most may think, mental illnesses can also have a physical effect on people. Some physical effects are “unexplained aches and pains” and even thoughts of physically harming oneself (What Is Mental Health?). There are so many key factors that prove mental health to be incredibly important and that shows how mental health can intensely affect a person, yet there is still such stigma. Social media inadvertently plays a role in this stigma, especially when it comes to celebrity deaths.
The death of Mac Miller, a rapper from Pittsburgh, sparked a lot of discussion concerning mental health in the media but not in good light. Mac Miller’s ex, another famous singer, was ripped apart by the internet for leaving her significant other in his time of need. There was this idea, if you are in a relationship, that you are responsible for the person that isn’t mentally well. Subjects began to believe that Miller’s girlfriend could have stopped his death alone and that idea began to make some believe that non-celebrities had the same responsibility to their partners.
On a website that only contains college aged writer, an article appeared that really propagated this unhealthy idea of staying with someone throughout their mental illnesses. While the author doesn’t inherently state that someone is responsible for their happiness, they go on to say that the other person is responsible for the other getting help (Albright 2018). Even though this is a simple millennial-aged website, it still gets into the minds of young adults and extends the life of the mental health stigma.
This concept that one person is responsible for their mentally ill significant other is almost disrespectful. A responsibility like that should never fall on one person’s shoulders, especially when there are other outlets such as friends and family. This isn’t just ignorant of the realities of mental illness but it also deflects from personal situations. It allows people to ignore those in their lives that may struggle with something similar to the rapper. This means that, more than likely, every single human knows at least one person with some sort of mental illness.
To get specific, there are an estimated 44 million Americans facing some sort of mental illness (“Mental Health in America – Prevalence Data”). With that many people suffering in some way, shape or form, one might think that there would not be a stigma but they would be sadly mistaken. In the example of Mac Miller, the general public only acknowledged the suffering mental illness can cause when someone famous has lost their life to it. Eventually, the news died down and the stigma returned. Why is that? One possibility is because someone who is mentally sick may seem to be too much effort for someone who it mentally healthy to handle. One may find someone with mental illnesses to be a burden and not worth their time or energy.
The most prominent reason being that, if the realities of mental illnesses are not constantly being discussed, the general public finds no reason to focus on it.
A common phrase that gets thrown around when someone dies of mental illnesses in the news is “you can always come and talk to me,” yet no one puts forth the effort to talk to someone they know is suffering. That is where the narcistic, albeit ignorant, attitude lies. Mentally healthy subjects do not understand that mentally ill subjects lack the capability to talk to someone and by those who are healthy not being proactive in the lives of those struggling, it is easier to blame the mentally ill subject for why not improving and why they feel alone. Mentally healthy subjects also lack the understanding to take self-accountability of their role in a mentally ill persons life, or lack of role. Of course, this isn’t to insinuate that the healthy should be the one to completely coddle the mentally ill. Putting forth just the smallest amount of effort will make a difference, yet that is a rare thing. While most mental illnesses are genetic, there are some that come into a person’s life due to mistreatment or their environment.
The abuse subjected onto a child, of course, is no fault of the child itself but rather the people who raise that child. Child abuse can be the result of a number of things such as the parent’s or guardian’s own childhood (Bauer). Adults that are responsible for raising children yet refuse to acknowledge the realities of their own upbringing only prolong the abuse and mental trauma placed onto future generations. Another cause of child abuse is when the adult raising the child has completely unrealistic expectations (Bauer). Infants, toddlers and children are one hundred percent dependent on their caregiver, which is something that some parents cannot grasp. They do not want to spend so much time giving that child the care and attention that is necessary and would rather only worry about themselves. However, this of course cannot happen when one has a child and doing this results in a mentally unhealthy child who will more than likely grow into a mentally unhealthy adult. The last reason for child abuse is an obvious one, which is alcohol and/or drug abuse (Bauer). Having a lack of self-control results in dangerous things and disables a person from taking self-accountability so one would blame the drugs or alcohol instead. It is also easier for one to cling to popular reason rather than having a full understanding, which is why there has also been such an uproar lately about vaccinations.
Science had hit a breakthrough and developed vaccines for illnesses that pretty much eradicated them. However, in 2014, there was a measles outbreak in kindergartners in California (Hare 2017). How could this have happened if there were vaccines to prevent such an illness? There are a multitude of reasons, such as general fear of vaccines and some people having immune problems that prevents them from getting vaccines. What really caused the anti-vaccination movement to gain traction was through the use of propaganda and social media (Hussain 2018). One of the biggest misconceptions of vaccines was the idea that vaccines caused autism, which is a mental disorder that someone is born with either through genetics or being exposed to something dangerous to that child’s development in the womb. Another misconception of vaccines is what exactly is in them.
The way that vaccines work is that is gives a subject immunity against diseases such as measles or whooping cough. In order to do that, vaccines contain weak or dead antigens that cause specific illnesses so that your body understands how to prevent it (Vaccine Ingredients). There are also things like preservatives and stabilizers to make sure it continues to protect the vaccinated person (Vaccine Ingredients). Studies have even shown that around 42,000 lives are saved because of vaccines and that vaccines resulted in absolutely no deaths from polio from 1998 – 2007 (TIP Talk! 2015). Despite this information being public knowledge, the anti-vaccination movement has been convinced of different materials being in vaccines.
Disregarding all public scientific fact, the members of the anti-vaccine movement tend to believe that there are traces of mercury and aborted fetal tissue which of course are not true. This concept came into fruition due to the fact that vaccines “are produced by growing the virus inside of human cells”, more specifically fetal tissue since it grows better there (Rinkunas 2019). This newfound thought process to completely distrust science and rely purely on what others say is not only dangerous but careless to others.
There are people who do not have the ability to receive vaccines and rely on something called herd immunity, which allows those that can get vaccinated to not carry illnesses that could kill those who cannot get the vaccine (Herd Immunity: How does it work?). One example being infants and children who cannot be vaccinated on account of the fact that they are just simply too young for some vaccines (Iannelli 2019). Another example is people with weak immune systems or immune deficiency disorders (Iannelli 2019). This distrust of information doesn’t just stop at vaccines; it also goes as far as distrusting science when it comes to the environment.
The concept of global warming is something everyone is aware of but in recent years, some are calling it a hoax. There are so many things that humanity is doing to cause global warming yet many people are not changing their habits. One of the main causes of global warming are pollutants, which can come in a variety of forms. Pollutants can be things such as the burning of fossil fuels and the burning of trash (MacMillan 2019). One pollutant that almost every person is personally guilty of is food waste.
Through the overwhelming amount of food being wasted every second by subjects all across the globe, there is an outrageous amount of methane gas being created. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is extremely powerful and causes the earth to heat up rapidly (Dana 2016). By wasting as much food as we collectively are, we are responsible for the environmental changes occurring every day. Not only is wasting food a huge issue for the environment, the way that most food is created can also be detrimental.
Agriculture uses almost 70% of the water used as a whole, even around the globe (Dana 2016). To truly understand just how much is being wasted, a little over two pounds of beef that is just thrown away also means that 50,000 liters (about 13,208 gallons) of water needed to make that meat was just thrown away (Dana 2016). Unfortunately, it isn’t just meat that requires so much water to create. There are several types of food subjects consume on an almost regular basis that require similar amounts of water to create that inevitably negatively impact the environment.
There is an idea that eating vegan is the best way to protect the environment, as seen from the beef example, but even that isn’t completely true. There are quite a few things that are created for our consumption that are actually awful for the world we live in. One example is almond milk, which is an alternative to dairy milk. Almond milk has recently become a staple in many vegan households because of how cows are mistreated on dairy farms. However, almonds require over a gallon of water just to grow them. On top of that, it takes over twenty-six gallons of water to make a little over three ounces of actual almond milk (Misachi 2017). Another dangerous food to the environment is rice because rice paddies actually create the “largest source of methane gas on the earth” (Misachi 2017). Despite there being evidence to prove how harmful some foods may be, subjects continue their same routine and feign ignorance.
There is no one innocent in our society anymore. Everyone has played some type of hand in everything occurring around us. With school shootings, everyone has this unspoken responsibility within their ideological state apparatus to keep each other safe, especially when it comes to children. Children are the future generation; we will not live forever. We have a responsibility as the adult subjects within this ideological state to keep the younger people safe from harm and destruction. By actively refusing to take responsibility in children being slaughtered senselessly so often, we are only prolonging the inevitable. We are not stopping the metaphorical fire that is raging all over the country. We are doing an incredible amount of harm by doing nothing about it.
Studies have shown the statistics of a shooters’ gender and race, yet we continue to ignore that and offer no solutions. There is a constant lack of awareness to the facts, which in turn continues the tragedies occurring so often. On top of that, subjects within society further reject what happening and begin to blame mental health, which only strengthens the already existing stigma. That stigma then leaks into how subjects view celebrities and others in their lives. That stigma is passed down to others, who eventually become adults or parents and use that stigma as justification against their abuse to their own children or the mistreatment of others.
This stigma, when regarding parents and their offspring, results in abuse of every type and creates a future member of society that is functioning off of trauma. With this stigma continuing to make its rounds within subjects, it also prolongs that child to never seek help with the abuse they experienced during their upbringing. Scenarios such as this result in distrust for everything, including therapists. Other types of distrust occur within science.
There are many different things that subjects have begun to distrust when it comes to science. The biggest two being vaccinations and global warming. Vaccination myths can easily be debunked with minimal effort, but there a wide consensus that those scientific facts are still false. This idea of rejecting fact has led to instances of sickness and death, yet it continues and the same people refusing to vaccinate also refuse self-accountability for their actions. The same goes for global warming; each and every person is responsible for what is happening to the earth but there is such a refusal to change. Apparently, one’s own menial satisfaction is worth more than protecting our only planet which will be passed down for generations. When faced with the realities of our planet, it seems easier to justify why one does the things they do and to act as though they had no idea of their actions.
This constant need for justification for one’s own actions to feign innocence is an action that is causing the inevitable downfall of our society and planet. When it comes to the environment, no one wants to accept that what subjects put into their bodies actually effects the environment. They will continue to drink almond milk for his health benefits, despite the research that was done to show that the environmental effects outweigh the health benefits (Misachi 2017). It is easier to ignore the consequences so that one can enjoy certain food, which will prolong environmental issues until it is too late to fix them. All of these factors result in what is known as humanity’s innate lack of self-accountability. It is the habit that we, as subject, do in order to ignore the difficult realities of the world around us. It is a defensive mechanism, if you will, that occurs with us subconsciously. However, it needs to come to an end. The ignorance has to stop and the new habit of taking self-accountability needs to form in its place.
If we collectively cannot change our mindset, we will continue in the destruction of our ideology and our planet. It becomes worse with each passing day so there isn’t a second to lose. In order to change, every subject needs to be more understanding. What this means is to have empathy for those that are mentally sick, conduct research of scientific fact and not prolong any stigmas.
When it concerns ideology specifically, subjects have attempted to escape it. What this means is that our ideology conforms us to what is societally acceptable and expected. This ideology has, of course, changed with the times and the dominate mindset. However, transforming or leaving this ideology is crucial for every subject within it because, at the current rate, our ideology is failing.
In conclusion, the current state of our ideology due to the innate human nature to refuse self-accountability, feign ignorance and refuse fact is the cause of our ideology failing. The continuation of these issues such as mass shootings, stigma and impacts on the environment are causing subjects to destroy each other and the environment. It creating a sort of divide between us as individuals and the people around us.
Humans cannot function alone, that is the fact. Humans require companionship and social interaction, so limiting that basic human need simply because of harmful ideations is a trend that needs to be put to an end. While we as a community of humans needs to shift how our ideology is currently functioning, attempting to leave that ideology by rejecting scientific fact and completely rejecting the realities of the world is only going to make our ideology worse or shift it in the wrong direction. However, in order to correctly shift our ideology, everyone needs to play their part and take accountability.
The takeaway from all of this is that the lack of self-accountability occurring in our ideological state apparatus is a huge issue that bleeds into many different factors and scenarios that are presently occurring within our world. Whether it’s the woman you saw scream at the retail worker or the person who hit you in the car accident, we all have a part to play when it comes to changing our ideology and how we live so that the world can potentially be a safer place for everyone of every age, gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation.
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