For this intervention I’d like to take a look at the theory of relative deprivation to make a connection with an incident I found myself unfortunately experiencing…
I was playing my lotto numbers last night and couldn’t believe what was happening right before my eyes. I saw a man with half his face covered and knew when he looked around with crazed eyes that he wasn’t a late Trick or Treater. I watched him pull out a crumbled up black plastic bag, all in slow-motion, then came out the long revolver from his waistline. I was frozen but knew enough to not make a sudden moves.
I avoided staring too intently as other customers came into the corner store of a busy variety store at 7 pm that the robber kept ordering to “get on that side”, gesturing with a big gun in the air towards me. I kept my eyes on the gun he kept waiving but as 2, then 3 others “joined the party” I inched down the aisle, now with very little of my body in direct view. I also limited my target area but standing with my left shoulder pointed towards him, shifting from having my chest/heart exposed.
I’m pretty street smart and seen enough movies to know what was happening immediately but was still shaken. It’s crazy how you don’t know what you would do in a situation like that until you actually are. I also read this robber’s body language and sensed he didn’t want to actually hurt anyone, he was just a drug addict and his relative and absolute deprivation drove him to these desperate measures.
Identifying areas where crime is rising, and targeting these locations would improve the quality of life in communities ravaged by drug use. Drug pushers use dimly lit, not monitored streets as territories where drug addicts buy and take drugs. Both affect the other members of the communities and the communities adversely. So to begin curbing the escalation of a declining way of life, and reversing the unfavorable living conditions of some neighborhoods a good place to start would be to recognize which ones are underdeveloped. This store is a busy store, with several cameras but she was the only one working. And the adjacent block is dark.
Addressing neglected areas and making a comparison to “what works” – better and safer schools, easily accessible and safe commuting, police presence, affordable housing, etc. all would start at the local district level of governing bodies. Parents of children who are worried about their local playground being used by adults shouldn’t be subjected to seeing drug sales and paraphernalia. By taking initiative towards wanting better communities, and knowing the importance of having an enriching environment, I would suggest parents and teachers discussing concerns at parent-teacher conferences. This would allow an open forum where children, parents, and educators, and the learning community connect. But it all begins with a public announcement.
Education is always vital, as in most cases a lack of education is a prime ingredient for poor families, and poverty stricken communities. But also awareness helps educate those that are not aware of the consequences not making education the most important factor in their lives can cause. The theory of relative deprivation studies quality of life issues.
Following social media and seeing the glamorous lives the affluent can live could prompt someone to want to live outside of their means, following an “in crowd”, could lead to drug use, and cause debt, and certainly creates a desire to acquire more and more material possessions. “Create enough hunger and everyone becomes a criminal” (Batman Begins), enough to steal or even kill for. And people will manipulate whole systems to reap the benefits from programs and use funds disproportionately. Some people are just misguided or oblivious to how their actions hurt others, physically and/or emotionally – but all affect each other financially.
Many behaviors are learnt behaviors, and children have the tendency and capacity to act out what they see. Because some communities aren’t as safe as others I believe through education, and better/equal laws, and their enforcement, more can be done to keep communities tightly knit and better served. As we learned about the bystander effect theory people avoid perspective problems because everyone is apart of their respective communities and a part from the one they are reluctantly and temporarily included in. Some people are just “passing by” and prefer to go unnoticed. But sometimes that disconnect is blatant.
In my opinion, the way to help communities and people at large, is to promote a greater understanding of how important respecting people, all people in general, is. Everyone is someone’s father or mother, daughter or son, brother or sister. It isn’t a matter of promoting one group’s or person’s security over another, choosing which communities continue to develop and which one are stagnant and lacking. It is clear how some groups and members of a community need more assistance. Drug counseling in schools, drug programs for addicts, advertising free counseling and offering assistance through various non-profit groups, churches and places of worships offering nonjudgmental fellowship, etc. all would do their part of providing more literature, and more education to illustrate the damages of what drugs do to families, communities, and every individual’s life individually outside of the lives he/she influences.
There are certain actions that can not be tolerated in societies, like discrimination and racism – both create division and fuel hatred. But there is also a racism within social classes that should be addressed as well. I believe better programs can be created to help the impoverished and homeless, the elderly, abused and neglected children, the sick, children in public schools, drug addicts, and stiffer laws towards drug dealers and violent offenders. Adequate signage and properly monitored areas can also serve as deterrents to prevent future crime. The general consensus can be taken quarterly at various facilities, with numerous inventories, to take the climate of how people are feeling about the communities they belong to.
There is a believe that people are generally good but we are also self-seeking because we want to be better than our “competition” in this hunter-gatherer society.
For additional insight please take a look at the short video attached below. It is all very basic and relative, and common sense – but then again if common sense was so common I don’t think it would be taught at the collegiate level.
Schneider, F., Gruman, J., Coutts, L. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: Sage.