Expression and values in society today

The human society

(Photo: fady habib/Flickr/CC-BY)

Society is built with a certain structure and on a system of beliefs that controls and limits individuals. Society, after all, is the response to the human need for an order. This is the origin of values, norms and laws. A set of values are identified and held as the greatest ideals of the human community. These ideals are then made into policy; they are enforced by laws and the institutions of government. These are the norms and standards of society.

Law and Order

In society, the idea that the norms and values must be protected made deviant activities criminal, even if the acts stem from individual expressions. Society is built to service the whole, not the individual, thus his or her personal expressionism is to be set aside. Any act, however creative, is suppressed if it goes against social morals.  This is the case of the editor of Playboy, who is being hounded by the authorities in Indonesia for his part in what is referred to as pornography. This is the fate of those who go against the system or the established standards of society.

Social defiance

From an alternative point of view, the lines separating pornography from art and literature are never well-defined. Moreover, it is always a difficult task to create a clear-cut distinction between the two. This makes the realm of expression overlap with the domain of law, norms and values. Furthermore, given the context of Indonesia’s cultural and socio-religious framework, this becomes a matter of great controversy. To defy the very core of the community’s belief — for self-expression — is a grievous thing, but would it be worth it? Could it ever be as simple as requesting an online installment loan or online payday loans?

Shift of paradigm

Defying the established order of things is not necessarily viewed as negative. However, only in contesting the standards and values of a certain society are these things re-evaluated. This serves as a catalyst for genuine social transformation, and certain segments of society will likely resist this change. Nevertheless, some will institute these alterations and become the basis for change in trends in the status quo. The start of a revolution as to how society works will begin with radically new ideas adopted by some.


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