Just as in a family there is a complex emotional process that exists in society. The level of emotional maturity can be measured in different periods for any society by looking at the kinds and intensity of symptoms and the degree of personal responsibility versus dependency.
In general each social group has rules and expectations of its members. To some degree the social rules are established for the group and not for the individuals.
Any society can undermine or enhance an individual’s ability to make decisions for self. The more autonomy a society, the more the rules will strive to promote higher the level of emotional maturity. The more dependent the individuals are the lower the levels of emotional maturity. Rules can easily be made to foster dependency on the government.
A society that is primitive or stressed may allow little individual freedom and be extreme in punishments. Such groups can exist for many years as little energy is wasted in decision making. The rules are known and action is taken to preserve the state at the expense of the individual.
Other social groups may be too permissive and give the individual too much freedom. The downside of permissiveness is that there are few possibilities to develop internal guidelines and principles. People are loved no matter what they do. There is a focus on rights rather than on responsibilities. The permissive society encourages the giving in to regressed demands. The focus on rights can result in an increasing focus on “others”, leading to more blaming, and then complaining. How does one increase personal responsibility and respect for others? Is it possible to use laws to activate this kind of change?
In permissive families the weak can dominate the emotional landscape. Under certain conditions leaders give into the complaints of others. The voice of complaints moves in direction for short term gain at the expense of long term principles. Since leaders often have to be “popular” they can find it very difficult to act on principles.
In families and in society’s leaders who give in to demands and do not look towards personal responsibility can be going down a road that increases individual’s wiliness to remain helplessness and dependent.
The family unit and society as a whole has the task of promoting the long term interest of individual members and the society as a whole. This requires leadership that is based on a deep understanding of long term consequences for decisions made today.