Issue Essay Prompt: People's behavior is largely determined by forces not of their own making.
Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.
One of the quintessential qualities of being a human being is having the ability to choose and make decisions about what defines us as a unique individual. However, these decisions are not made just by ourselves: they are influenced by elements such as the environment and culture. While an individual can choose to change their behavior over time, all standards in which human behavior is based upon are determined by external forces.
Without a doubt, people are products of their environment. The way that humans learn behavior is from observing and emulating other humans in that environment. From birth, babies study movement, as well as non-verbal and verbal language cues in order to survive. For example, business executives learn propriety, shrewdness, and fine tune their comprehension of business jargon in order to be successful, even before they become high ranking professionals. The environments and spaces that they expose themselves to, such as academia or reading publications such as The Economist
directly influences their behavior on and off the job.
Apart from professional careers, people are also influenced by culture. Culture can include ethnic heritage, music, and memorable events. For example, the baby boomer generation was influenced by the Vietnam war and other significant cultural phenomenons such as the Civil Rights Movement. The behavior of the baby boomer youth were heavily molded by history unfolding before their eyes. Young people were outraged by the injustices occurring and felt the need to rebel. Subcultures such as hippies and the Black Power movement to list a few, reflected a cultural shift in youth behavior from modeling propriety, to loud and in your face political activism.
Conversely, behavior is not simply just modeled by external forces: it can also be influenced by personal decisions. For example, there is an overwhelming presence of overt sexuality in American pop culture. Cultural mediums such as film, music, and television frequently promote young adults engaging in casual sexual activities. While this is still pervasive in our culture, every single young person is not partaking in those activities.
Indeed, there is now a counter-culture of engaging in abstinence because of how sex has been rendered meaningless and ephemeral hookups. The reason why all youth are not partaking in sexual activity is because of the power of choice. Ultimately, people, not their environments, decide what type of person they want to be. It is easy to point the blame at an industry or a specific environment for generating problems, but its harder to take accountability for personal choices that led to specific actions.
Despite difference in beliefs, there has to be a common understanding that our existence as people is not segregated from external forces. The way that we act and behave is a direct result of being exposed to different cultures and environments, which in turn, influences our lives on a daily basis.