Friday, September 9, 2011

No Problem Being Human - Lots of Problems "Growing Up"

I listened to a discussion between Stefan Molyneux and Stephanie Murphy recently on the use of corporal punishment when raising children. (Here's the link: Stephanie Murphy Corporal Punishment). I think the one thing that really stuck with me had to do with the ideas held by (many?) who follow Biblical instructions (mostly Old Testament), that (to paraphrase): Children are born "evil" and, therefore, have to have the "evil" beaten out of them. Furthermore, Stefan made the point that it is very difficult for the parents with this mindset to "withhold the rod" because they are convinced that the child's very soul and their "eternal salvation" hang in the balance.  So, it is really quite sad: the parents are trying to be helpful to their children and yet the scientific research is now showing just how detrimental punishment, especially physical punishment, really is for the brain development and the overall emotional psychological development of children.

For years now I have held the belief that what some see as issues of human "morality" are actually issues of human "development."  For instance, with a truly loving, peaceful, and supportive environment, children naturally develop a capacity for empathy by the time they are five or six years old. However, if the child is significantly traumatized prior to that age, then there is a very high risk of "arrested development"; in other words, the child gets "stuck" in their emotional and psychological development while their cognitive and physical development may continue more or less normally.

From my observations, I think a LOT of people get "stuck" around three-and-a-half to four-and-a-half years of age if not earlier.  So they never make it to "five". They never make it to "empathy". They never make it to the point where they can really see from another person's "point of view." Unfortunately, being able to see from another person's point of view is probably one of The Most Important abilities to have in order to be able to negotiate effectively and, therefore, to be able to resolve conflicts through non-violent means.

If "most" of the world's children are being physically or even psychologically abused, or traumatized in any number of other ways, and therefore, "most" of them never fully mature as human beings, then it is no wonder we keep looking to a parental force like a "State" and its various levels of government to "take care of us" - to resolve the conflicts we ourselves cannot resolve on our own. Unfortunately, many (if not most) of the human beings who eventually become "public servants" are no better off than the rest of us; they are being drawn from that same pool of abused children, and so there is no real benefit having "them" doing the negotiating for "us".  They are Us.

So, what is going to happen when the current governments and social political structures of the world collapse? I am sure there are still many adults who, like children, will continue to fantasize that "everything is going to be okay", but for those of us who might be just a little more capable of "seeing reality for what it is with little or no denial", then such "collapses" are cleary inevitable.  It is not a matter of "if" but "when".  For those who have never had to rely on their own interpersonal skills to resolve conflicts effectively, the future may look Very, Very, Scary.

But it doesn't have to be for two reasons: 1) There are more and more advances being made in neurobiology and psychotherapy that can help people get past their developmental blocks and start to grow again. 2) There are at least a few more people in the world today who are acting as Fully Mature Human Beings, capable of empathy and understanding, people who have learned how to resolve conflicts effectively in their interpersonal relationships and who can teach others to do the same.

However, if for any reason we continue to cling to the false beliefs that 1) There is something fundamentally "wrong" or "evil" in human nature, 2) That that "problem" or "evil" is present from the moment we are born, and therefore, 3) Something violent has to be done to us as children in order to "beat the evil out of us"... then we will never see any kind of long-lasting peace in our interpersonal relationships and by extension in the world.

It really is that simple.

If you are a person who believes as I do, that our "moral" issues may have roots in "arrested development" rather than in some fundamental "flaw" in human nature; if you believe that most conflicts (both private and public) can be resolved non-violently, then I encourage you to continue to read this blog.  I feel I am a human being who has actually Grown Up, and I have learned so many things along the way to help me become a more truly empathetic, compassionate, understanding, rational, and peaceful person. I want to share what I have learned with you, so that you might grow as well and become more confident in your own abilities to resolve conflicts with like-minded and like-hearted, fully mature, adult human beings.

Yours in Peace...