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By Rhea Prakash '30

     The word society conjures up an image of any group of people connected by common threads of geography, social demographics, politics, sports, or even wealth in today’s modern world. Societies evolved from groups of hunting or fishing gatherers 250,000 years ago to the first organized civilization in Mesopotamia in 4000 B.C., a culture connected by law, astronomy, mathematics, literature, or agriculture, and the soldiers. These societies continued to evolve in Egypt, India, China, Peru, and Mesoamerica over thousands of years. Today, the societies we live in are hives of innovation, wealth, power, progress, education, politics, religion, and much more. The tensions, emotions, and energy to belong, transform the world, and think creatively can be felt in almost all societies across the world. If we had to reflect on the past and connect it with our present day, a few questions to ponder are: How do ideologies influence these modern-day societies? What influences the enormous divide that alienates individuals? Who is a hero and how does one even begin to describe what qualities classify someone as a hero? 














     Societies, then and now, have been connected by common ideologies, with one major goal: happiness and good health for all. Ideologies or beliefs are critical to humans because they help us define, understand, interact, and connect with the world around us. These beliefs stem from our families, friends, the past, even stories and media. Everything around us in our respective society influences and shapes how we think, how we use logic, and how we deal with everything that life throws at us every single day. Ideologies form our individual identity layers and shape our personal vision of the world.  We make assumptions, learn to trust, and automatically lean toward perspectives that match our own. We tend to discredit, reject, or intrinsically fight against perspectives that differ from our own. This tendency is known as “Confirmation Bias.”  It creates divisions in society and alienation of individuals because of their differences according to a particular standard. Standards are created by people with some form of power over groups, and they define how people should act, talk, behave, work, vote, or even the unique rules for people of different genders. There is no violence or force involved in this process; rather, it is a universally accepted way of life.


      Dominant ideologies often push societies toward certain values or beliefs, and strongly influence collective thoughts and actions. These dominant ideologies include anarchism, communism, democracy, fascism, imperialism, liberalism, secularism, and many others. Classifying and categorizing them often results in stereotyping, which then leads to racism, prejudice, and discrimination, which in turn alienates individuals. If you were to consider how to change our thinking or take social action, you would realize that asking the why, what, how, where, which, and when questions to analyze and gather different perceptions about even the simplest “accepted” norm is critical. 

     Traditionally, a hero has been someone who selflessly takes on the role of a protector. In today’s modern and advanced societies, everyone looks for an inspiration or for someone successful whose behavior, goals, and achievements can be emulated. Heroes are essential to societies because they provide hope, connection, and a sense of belonging. Heroes influence societies in major ways by being selfless, courageous, trustworthy, and admirable. They do not make mistakes, they support and uphold values, and they lead and take action instead of simply talking. Is there a “norm” for calling someone a hero, or has that changed with time? In my opinion, every human could be a hero by being altruistic, true to their self, honest, and by placing a priority on taking positive actions. Heroes do not necessarily possess wealth or power or represent a specific race or religion. Anyone who takes the time to show integrity, be compassionate, motivate or inspire even one other individual without prejudice, and has the courage to face challenges head-on is today’s hero. 

      The key word for individuals and the future of our societies is “connection.” Every piece of human or societal evolution from history and progress made by humans can be traced back to connection or collaboration. The advancements of humans and societies, innovations, and discoveries have always been responsible for bringing people together in the past. As the population of the world continues to explode, advancements are transforming and dividing societies. One solution for uniting these divided societies is for individuals to assume responsibility for making deliberate and conscious changes to preserve the benefits provided to us by our ancestral societies. On the contrary, if societies continue to develop based on biases and prejudices, progress toward our future will be severely impacted. Ultimately, if every individual recognizes the multidimensional or multicultural aspects of societies and reverts to a fair and collaborative approach to life, the world will be transformed into a powerhouse for  future generations. What step would you take to break a pattern created by a certain ideology and help transform your own society? Would you be the hero who changes the world and its societies for a better future? What actions would you take? 

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