Monday, 25 October 2010

Why Improve Ourselves? 3

I was lucky enough to catch Rosa Monckton`s documentary "Tormented Lives" last night on BBC 2. I was really struck by Rosa`s compassion and her disposition to relate to people in an accepting and non-judgmental way and I really hope that this documentary`s powerful expression changes things for people.

Of course I have talked about why we need to bully others, both as individuals and as a society, in my blogs many times, covering the abuse of women, the elderly and children. We saw in the program how bullies, very much in their raw, animal state, victimise those who are obviously weak. I have explored previously why certain people, or groups, are picked on, by whom and for what motive. I am not going to go over that here because this blog takes a slightly different angle in regard to my previous blogs entitled "Why Improve Ourselves?".

Though I understand bullying and victimisation from both first-hand experience and careful observation of life around me, I am always shocked to see the affects of it. Of course, bullying in schools is no better for the attention it receives and with time -old opportunities to bully the sick and the elderly, nothing changes very much. Why would it? Unfortunately, there is societal need for it as well as the systems to enable it and protect the perpetrators. We are all complicit in this.. My blogs "Teachers who Bully" show how a closed system like a classroom, for example, is a training ground for what we see in our wider society in the adult world.

Anyway, back to this blog: it struck me during Rosa`s program that our society's ubiquitous tolerance for bullying begins with small behavioural lapses that seem so ordinary and innocuous. And we let them go. Behaviour in schools is appalling. Children in mainstream education aren`t taught how to behave in a polite respectful manner and where they slide are not pulled up for it. There is no one to care about such basics as saying "please" and "thank you", or holding a door open for someone.Still less for a child calling another child a hurtful name. Indeed, as I discussed way back, the bullied child is more likely to be treated as a misfit, a psychological problem, than the bullies, proving that as a society we in fact SUPPORT bullying.

So what`s this got to do with the behaviour of the bullies in Rosa`s program? Simple, the behaviour of Rosa`s victimisers has slid way beyond the omission of a "please" and "thank you".They have spent years in an environment that, frankly, allows them to vent their animal drives however they want to. Basically, it`s animal expression.

So you have to catch all aspects of behaviour early, in primary school. In my view the threshold cannot be drawn at bullying, it has to be a threshold that desires basics, as part of a process to de-animalise our behaviour from very small issues upwards. To do this you can`t just take out certain behaviours you don`t want, 5 or 10 or 15 years too late, you have to cultivate a nature that cleaves to higher values of respect and courtesy, and a desire for approbation.

What does "desire for approbation" mean? Well, it means you have to CREATE children who wish to please and wish to be helpful. But look, input has to match output, which it certainly does not in mainstream education. You just can`t get the sort of kids you want in society by telling them what to do: you have to example it! That means that classrooms should not reflect the animal nature of the outside world, survival of the fittest, children should never fall victim to group runtification(*see footnote) at school, none should be left behind educationally, none should be sent to the educational psychologist when they are bullied.... I could go on. The point in the obverse is that, of course, one, just ONE example of how society operates, the classroom, demonstrates to all the children in the school that THIS is how society works. Are we then so surprised that they go out and overtly copy what is being exampled from the day that they start mixing with other kids and adults outside the family?

I think that we should always try to improve ourselves, to escape our animal nature as much as we can and Rosa`s bullies show us that. If small things were important I think that all of us could enjoy better lives, but we really have to wake up to things that are almost invisible to our rightfulness-radar. What we don`t apprehend is just off the screen, I`m afraid, causally.The bullies in Rosa`s documentary have been taught by example.... and the animal behaviour they exhibit carries with it the fire of resentment born out of received disrespect and projected failure that keeps them fuelled up.

If we expand this logic we can see that all behaviors are important and significant and we see that any improvement is worth it in any area or with any issue. But, but, but, we must try to see that OUR societal framework engenders the bullying we disapprove of in others. Not just that some kids are disadvantaged -by the animal function of a classroom or by the social, financial or educational status of their parents, but that our whole system is riddled with our animal needs to compete and gain position over others. If we look at what really happens in schools, the survival of the fittest at work right in front of our eyes, we can see that Rosa`s bullies learned their behaviour from everything we show them: certainly from the way schools make a percentage of children fail, the use of psychiatric labels given to various misfits,etc.

Take a look around you...Then take a closer look.

Of course, raising ourselves above our animal state, our animal soul, is one of the main themes of one of the primary texts of chassidic Judaism, the Tanya, by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi. In my discussions I am going to come back to religion in this context a bit later on. Hope you will join me.

Very Best Wishes from me to you.......

*Runtification: my word for the process in our society for creating runts.Runts in this context are failures and rejects,people pushed to the margins of our "civilised" western culture.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

The Murder of God: Is it Moral?

Hello! Hope you are doing great!

Okay, so let`s make a start on the next big subject.....

I saw recently that Humanists are titling a lecture, "The God Virus". This prompted me to think about whether it is right to try to destroy God simply because you yourself don`t believe in "him". (Okay, okay, we`ll come back to the philosophy later! I can hear you saying, how can you murder God anyway?")

When someone uses such emotive and pejorative language they are telling us that they mean to convince us of THEIR VIEW, that God is indeed the equivalent of a virus. Using the word "virus" cashes in on fears we already have about viruses. Combining it with "God" causes us to, they hope, associate the two things as one. It`s a psychological tactic that plays a trick on the mind. If used often enough, it is a tactic that implants into our thinking the notion of God as something bad.

Of course, there are many words and names and places that are inexorably linked to something bad. We cannot hear the name "Adolf" without thinking of concentration camps, or "Cambodia" without thinking of Pol Pot. We can all test this out for ourselves.... Based upon the knowledge that names associated with certain heinous crimes stick fast in the human mind, a mind that stores information (a glossary for the primal brain) to warn us of danger, we can see the value to humanists of demonising God on this way: if they get enough exposure they will surely infect us all with the idea that God is a virus and that we are all "carriers", spreading infection to those around us. It`s the same memetic technique that turned Germans against Jews! and it works. Memes kill. Big time. Bang up to date (whoops! perhaps I`ll delete the word bang!) we have seen how governments have successfully demonised Muslims! (Did you know that you were being infected with ideas to MAKE you fear Muslims? That you have been manipulated as a pawn in a wider group/animal drive?)

Of course, we don`t realise it, but we all get "infected" with ideas all the time. Memes are far better at perpetuating themselves than our DNA! The question is, though, whether a group concerned with intellectual freedom is right to endeavour to take away the freedom of others to believe in whatever or whomsoever they wish to believe... and, I suppose, whether this takes the form of mere "persuasion" or whether it is,or will become, more than this. (We`ll look at this in the future......)

But why do they want to do it? Well, believe of not, it is all to do with freeing everybody from the indoctrination that religion brings.They don`t want children to be brought up on any religious narrative because this prevents a child from seeing the "truth" about the world around us. The only truth is science. The one truth. Bit like "the one God" !!!!!

Look, let me come clean here: I am not batting for God or willing to do any God-bashing, this blog is about the rights and wrongs of trying to dictate what others may or not believe, not to uphold one side or the other. My blog title "The Murder of God: Is it Moral?" is a parrying gesture to show my readers that anyone can use emotive language to manipulate someone else`s ideas.

And isn`t this where Humanism is going wrong? Anyone could believe something.. and believe that others should believe the same thing ..and then set about a crusade to achieve it ! Why is this any different from the germ of totalitarianism? In my view, the humanist belief that religion is invalid because it does not check with the reality of science, is a similar position to that held by many a Christian through the ages who would kill to prevent anyone else from having another view-point. And isn`t this the exact same animal/group motivation that is displayed in the thrust of, "The God Virus". Isn`t it just exactly the same thing coming from the opposite camp!

I`ve not finished on this subject by a long way ! Please join me later!

Very Best Wishes from me to you!