Somedays I tire of my self-assigned role of “nagging”. I ‘hear my own voice’ somewhat ceaselessly pointing out aspects of human psychology, human behavior that seem “what we need to notice” IF we want to be consistent with our professed interest in demonstrating human potential, human ‘glory’ if you will.
I appreciate I would do less nagging if I did not open my thoughts to details of human “doings”!
I could make a practice of ignoring what’s often going on. (I could opt for a state of ‘ignorance’.)
But I keep thinking too – IF “people” were more aware of what’s going on, many would shift their thoughts, their choices, their behaviors even a little. Just a little. I’ve in the past visualized what it would ‘look/feel’ like to be in a very large tanker or cargo ship headed seriously off-course in the middle of the ocean. Course correction would need a pretty small shift. It would take time to notice that the turn was successful, that the ship was back on course.
I am committed to the premise, in my heart of hearts, that each of us is born without conscious intent to create misery. But we are not born without intent. I am committed to a premise that our in-born intent is to enjoy ourselves, this earth, to develop and share talent and interest, to support this inborn intent in one another cooperatively.
Based on my premises, it follows that IF misery is created by human action, and this misery is pointed out, described, made “real”, the humans doing the deed will want to shift their behavior.
So why don’t we, why don’t ‘they’? Psychology lets us understand, even empathize, with the reasons for lack of shifts in behavior toward our inborn intent. “Need to belong” makes it hard to go against popular action in our social sphere, regardless of size of our social sphere (local to global). “Need to experience belonging” is linked to actual need to physically survive, true from our earliest infant days and continues on.
Groups to which we belong develop rules of behavior and associated practices over time. From family to community to nation to globe, historical experience with one another as enemy, as threat, results in – for instance, a ‘rule’ that some other group can be justly ‘isolated out’, or shunned, if not literally killed off. “Competition” gets mixed into this general trend – a need to ‘prove’ superiority emerges along side a need to ‘diminish significance’ of ‘members of that group over there.’
“Enjoyment” over time is transformed in meaning from deep experience of comfort and pleasure to “excitement and fun”. We become addicted to our own ‘goofiness’ and say “Aw, we’re just having a little fun here!”
For easily understood reasons, we have invented, developed, ways to exchange goods and services. Now lost in dimness of the past, early exchange of goods and services may be seen as action to support life of more than one person or group. “Exchange of goods and services” has morphed into use of ‘money’. Money has become mixed with ‘competition’, proof of significance, or evidence of diminished significance.
“Talent development”, support of talent in others, and “sharing” are mixed into “payment in exchange for goods and services”.
A straight and true line from birth to death, going from point A to point B in pure awareness, is not possible in our human psychological make-up, not even if we want it to be! We are far more complex and interesting than can be described in linear expression. We are a rich with potential from moment of birth, when we enter a complex social world, thoroughly vulnerable for physical survival, and need to sort out how to ‘make a go’ of our existence!
It’s no wonder our various capacities and impulses become inter-mixed in such a way that IF we find ourselves ‘off course’, we cannot easily effect ‘correction’!
In our full-blown present day (we’ve spent hundreds if not thousands or more years getting here) we are so far removed from “thoughtfulness of our inborn intentions” that it is fair to suggest most of our cultural practices are “off the mark” – often excessive and usually mindless.
I do not suggest early peoples were more mindful! I suggest they were about the same in natural capacity to invent, support one another, diminish one another. I suggest that, given lack of what has become the study of psychology, they had much less reflective judgment about killing one another off, for instance.
I believe “correction toward the best we can be”, correction toward those inborn impulses to express community, talent, support for one another, is more possible now. Even more possible in this immediate time than say, for instance, at the start of the 20th Century. In the last 100 or so years, we have made good inroads in asking questions and coming to increased understanding of “human nature”.
Without scholarship, research, without at least an attempt at “disciplined inquiry” that developed with “scientific method”, early peoples can “be excused” for their “ignorance”.
Based on what we’ve learned through psychology, it’s not that hard to understand how human behavior has developed to what it is in our time. Like I said above, we’ve had a long time getting here! BUT we’ve also made quite a self-congratulating fuss about our achievements, including our “ability to be rational”. We like to think we’ve “moved past” the behaviors of “those early peoples and their primitive (ignorant) ways”.
Folks, I’m not sure we have overall reason to congratulate ourselves as “no longer ignorant”. True, we’ve developed a lot to enhance life. We’ve also developed a lot to diminish life.
We’ve developed a great distance from expression of any ‘best we can be’ early in-born intent. We are so far immersed in our bath of “modern cultural pursuits” that we do not recognize the practices in our choices that perpetuate some of the most brutal and cruel non-life-supporting situations imaginable. Common “comfortable life” experience of many of us “allows” us to participate in this cruelty without giving it a thought. We have in this way “buried ourselves with distractions that perpetuate ignorance.”
This post developed without my preference. I began the morning aware of my nagging and decided I’d take a break, (would choose “ignorance”) for a while.
I ‘innocently’ (foolishly?) checked out an article by John Robbins on KFC’s ‘choice/behavior’ – specifically in its support of the “Susan G. Komen” cancer campaign. Inconsistency and lack of integrity.’ Robbins’ points re KFC and the cancer campaign were easy enough to follow. Farther in the article he introduced other KFC choices/behaviors, with reference to a poultry slaughter house video.
“OK, … too much for me!” was my response. My urge to nag was active once again. We are ignorant, we choose ignorance, and if we genuinely want to turn our ship around, we need to wake up to the condition of being off-course!
We’re “nice”, right? We stand for caring behaviors. We are modern people, with modern sensibilities. We are ever so much more ‘advanced’ than early peoples.
Here’s a truncated description of the video from Robbins piece: “”…Workers on video stomping chickens, kicking them .. violently slamming them against floors, walls. …ripping beaks off, twisting heads off, spitting tobacco into eyes + mouths, spray-painting faces, squeezing bodies so the birds expelled feces — all while the birds were alive.”
We like to say of these reports: “That’s an isolated incident”.
Really? When did ‘you’ last spend time on a slaughter house floor for any commercial meat production? Have you observed cattle, sheep, hogs, poultry even in small farm situations when ‘lined up for a procedure’ and can smell blood at the same time? (De-horning, for instance.) Have you seen their panic, their desperation to escape if only they could? Even when the humans handling them are being as calm and low-voiced and reassuring as they can?
Have you stopped to think of the experience of any humans working on a commercial slaughter house floor? Do you not imagine they “must shut down” innate urge to compassion, to supporting life? Do you think this does not have any effect on them, perhaps on how they feel when they go home to families after their shift? Would “YOU” choose employment on a slaughterhouse floor?
If you would not choose such an experience, why do you find it acceptable that your human family siblings might spend their days in such work, and often be paid so little even at that!
My points are several: I am a vegetarian specifically due to human developed systems of “commercial meat production”. I have much experience with many species of domestic livestock and I know the majesty of these creatures. I also have spent some time around a few who did indeed work on the ‘kill floor’ of slaughter houses; I’ve witnessed what this work can do to them, to their humanity.
I have also spent countless hours around cheery human gatherings wherein consumption of commercially raised meat is treated as “a great fun experience”.
Finally, I have witnessed the faces of young children when they witness adult cruelty to life, or adult dismissive attitude about an issue of cruelty or brutality. The faces of children in such moments register confusion or fear or both. Such experiences, often minor, quick and incidental (not horrendous as in slaughterhouses) begin the process of “hardening”, of “opting for ignorance, of seeking “fun” or “power over” (bullying) – either as a way to avoid “the reality of adult will to accept misery”, or as a way to “out-push” feelings of confusion, turmoil, and anguish.
We say: “This is human nature, it cannot be changed”.
I wonder, then, what is the point of all we’ve been shown, taught. What is the point of “psychology” as a field of study? What is the goal here?
What IS our “goal” of human being-ness, of human doing, if not to follow inborn intent?
I repeat: I do not believe any of us was born with the intent to commit harm or brutality, or to accept this as human “best we can be”.
It remains my premise that we were born with intent to enjoy ourselves, this earth, to develop and share talent and interest, to support this inborn intent in one another cooperatively.
Our “superior intelligence” to “other forms of life” has no meaning, no virtue, if we do not accept our unique “consciousness” as giving us a role that is not the same as “blind instinctive action”.
Yes, we are a “challenged” species! IF we were born as cattle or poultry, we might experience distress, but how relieved we would be of “responsibility” for thought and action!
Sometimes it seems the best that can be said to “humanity” in general is “Shape Up!” “Get with the real program here!”
Sounds like nagging, doesn’t it!
My Best! –MaggieAnn