The Lighthouse Keeper Essay
There are many ways to view the social order in today’s world. The variety of roles and structures which exist in our society make it a complex and ever changing play, in which we are both the audience and the actors. Sociology attempts to step aside and view the field of social interaction from the point of view of a spectator. What role, assuming that he or she has no sociological ambitions, can we assign to the lighthouse keeper?
According to the paradigm of Structural Functionalism each participant in the social order has a given role and contribution to society, but we are all so called “empty vessels” (R. Keel 2009). This way of thinking suggests that although everyone may have a part and personal objectives, we ultimately serve the needs of the social system as a whole. People adapt their goals to society and ultimately end up fulfilling the tasks needed in order to maintain the system in motion.
This idea leads back to the role of the lighthouse keeper and his part in the functioning of society. As we can clearly see, the job of the lighthouse man or woman is both full of difficulties, such as the fierce waves splashing the sides of the partly submerged building, and monotonous, the lighthouse is always there fulfilling its duty as a guiding and warning light. Although it is clear that there is need for this position in society, we cannot help but ask ourselves whether this role is brings joy for the lighthouse keeper. Does the guide to lost or wondering sailors reach only outward or does it bring satisfaction to the keeper and happiness into the atmosphere of the lighthouse itself.
The truth is that although there is a need for everyone in the system of social interaction, and everyone finds a way to bring something toward the its proper functioning, people often find themselves lead astray by their social roles. Once having occupied a place in society it is difficult for individuals to step aside and act as observers of their own lives. Too often we hear of people who seem to have everything – a family, a job, and social contacts, but are nevertheless unhappy. It is a common mistake to lose oneself in the everyday machine that is live and forget about what is really important. The view of the lighthouse keeper and the sea surrounding him may seem like paradise from the outside but it could represent the trap of society and its function imposed on the individual.
Although it may be true that we are all part of a system, play, machine or however else we could call the social environment, this view could be a highly limiting one in terms of our opportunities, and future development. If we chose to view our role in society as a set one we often become so involved in the day to day that we forget to appreciate ourselves, our uniqueness and the wonder of the world around us. The beauty of the individual should be maintained. Happiness comes when we have the opportunity to step aside and see ourselves, realise our desires and are given the strength to break free of the role assigned to us.