It is a known fact that not all human beings and not all societies follow the same social norms. There is however, certain aspects of social behavior that takes a universal paradigm as opposed to a regional and societal paradigm. We consider these social norms as universally accepted social norms. Even in the face of these universally accepted social norms, every society has its own reception of these social norms, which more or less are unique in that particular society. This is because no two societies view a given aspect in the exact same way. There must be certain elements of the aspect in question that are unique to each particular society and alien to another society. Thus, the statement that we do not follow the same social norms is a valid statement of facts with reference to various societies in the world. The following essay looks at how straying from the socially acceptable path can have grave consequences. It focuses primarily on the movie witness as a major point of reference on the consequences of straying from the socially acceptable path in any given society. Being separated by others, being considered criminals, and being disrespected are among the consequences of straying from the social norms.
In certain societies or rather in a given setting corruption is a widely accepted norm. This is a setting where most of the involved parties actively engage in matters that are more inclined towards corruption as opposed to honesty and justice. In such a setting, the consequences can be very severe for any individual planning to act otherwise or in contrary to the acts of the given setting. Such was the case in the movie witness. When John discovers that Mcfee’s involvement in the murder, he quickly reports the case to Chief Paul Schaeffer who is the superior officer. John does this seemingly without knowledge that both of these officers are highly corrupt and are involved in an array of illegal activities together. Thus, it brings about the concept of an individual going against a certain set of acceptable norms within a given societal setting. In this instance, John was going against what was socially acceptable within the police department. His fellow officers therefore perceive John as a threat to the social setting that is already in place in the police department. They perceive him as an element in society that is against the general flow of events that people accept in the given society and therefore it is necessary that the given society gives this individual an incentive to cease from his disruptive ways and adhere to the norms preset by the society. As a result, Mcfee attacks John that evening in an act of brutality and injures him. This is all in an attempt to silence John or rather remind him of what is acceptable within their given setting and how he should therefore act in that regard. Thus, the consequences for John’s actions of meddling in the affairs of other officers in the department gets him beaten up and brutally injured. This shows that even in a corrupt society there are consequences for those who seem to be going against the accepted norms. Even in a corrupt society, there are norms, which people expect one to adhere to. Failure to adhere to these norms results in a series of consequences aimed at teaching the individual in question a lesson in humility as well as ensuring that the individual will more or less stick to the accepted paradigms of behavior in that social setting. John is disrespected because of his stance.
Certain societies are very strict and particular when it comes to matters of courtship and marriage. In such societies, a preset list of rules governs the whole institution of marriage and the associated processes of courtship. Failure to adhere to such rules might lead to excommunication by the community in question or even being viewed as an absolute failure by the community in question. Such a scenario clearly presents itself in the movie witness. John starts to develop feelings for Rachel but the jest in the story is that Rachel is Amish. Being Amish there is a set of rules, which govern who she can and cannot marry. Unfortunately, for the pair John falls in the category of the latter as opposed to the prior. The situation hits a fever pitch when Rachel and John are caught dancing.
“Rachael and John start falling in love despite Grandpa Lapp’s warning that she will end up being “shunned” (ostracized), after he catches them dancing in the nocturnal barn by the lights and radio of John’s car” Simon, John Adapted from National Review, Inc. April 5, 1985, pp. 56-58.
This, in the Amish ways, is clearly an unacceptable social behavior that more or less brings shame on the involved parties. Eli does not mix his words as he addresses the situation. He clearly and vividly tells Rachel that this kind of behavior can lead to her excommunication from the community. This is because the Amish ways do not condone intimate entanglements with people whom they consider outsiders. Thus, Rachel gets a warning to desist from this behavior or face excommunication. This is a clear illustration that excommunication from a given social setting is one of the ways that a given society can use to punish a member of society who goes against the norms of that given society. This excommunication can include excommunication even by a person’s nuclear family for performing acts that the society perceives as bringing shame on not only the individual and their family but also the entire society. Thus, the film witness brings out excommunication as one of the consequences used by society as a punitive measure for those who go against the norms of the given society.
It is very clear from the film witness that every society has a set of norms, which every member of the society is expected to strictly adhere to. It is also very clear that failure to adhere to these norms results in consequences for the involved parties.
“There is not only a personal need to agree with others but strong pressure exerted by the group on any person with different opinions to comply with the majority. Promises, arguments, and threats are used to get agreement. If someone steadfastly refuses to agree with the group, he/she is frequently rejected and ignored.” "Chapter8 - page 7 of 56." Chapter8 - page 7 of 56. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2014. <http://www.psychologicalselfhelp.org/Chapter8/chap8_7.html>.
Because of this, the consequences can even include excommunication from the society or a brutal attack as a deterrent towards divergent behavior. One social norm that more or less cuts across the board in terms of universal acceptance is the delicate nature of life. Most societies across the world view life as a delicate and by all means a very precious installation of the human being, which we must be protect and hold in high regard by all people. As is the case, a majority of the societies in the world uphold the right to life. Killing another person is an act that draws harsh criticism from all corners of the world. There is absolutely no society in the world that gives a blank cheque in terms of the capacity to take a human life without any serious consequences. The movie Witness therefore brings out the gravity off taking human lives as well as other socially unacceptable actions.