Have you ever wondered why our treatment of each other at times does not represent the best of who we are and who we should be? Have you thought about how our behavior in times of strife effects others, our family members, our acquaintances, friends, and strangers -the reasons why we treat each other in ways that cause injury, discomfort, or mistreatment to others? The treatment of any situation that becomes unpleasant and harmful because we are unskilled at problem resolution, or that maybe we are just in a reckless snit and nobody or nothing will get in the way of our overpowering will. This is an all too often neglected observance in our everyday lives. I am myself amiss to the consequences of my misdirected energy and do try to spend a proportionate amount of my time reflecting about such occurrences in my life, and on those whom have created such retrospections for me to contemplate upon. For reasons that sometimes evade me, I seem to have a fascination about such matters and I am determined to gain an understanding about the the experiences I have had in my life, and of those around me whom have made an impact on me. I think this is truly the motivation for me to major in Psychology, and Philosophy; to come to grips with a mad stricken world in chaos.
On a larger scale through-out global histories many of the planets cultures have asked these questions for thousands of years. I recall my professor Dr. Jack McClurg discussing this topic in my Chinese Philosophy Class when I was attending San Diego State University back in the nineteen eighties. The Chinese Dynastic rulers who were plotting to apply a governing rule for the people to adopt in their political treatment of this problem had to decide how to approach the populations for a cultural renascence. Between the competing factions of philosophical schools of thought at the time they decided to choose Confucianism over the the others largely due to its pragmatic approach. The Chinese solution was to indoctrinate the masses through an etiquette of conduct via Confucianism!
Abusive, ignorant, insensible and brutal creatures we may become without some defining guidance to lead us out of a path of the callous and ferocious mentalities we repeatedly tend to follow. My own opinion has much to do with the childhood experience as we age and we observe the world in its primal states. If we have crude social instruction, if we are abused and mistreated, if we have exposure and have a familiarity of violence in the form of psychological or physical; we frequently mirror our environments. Ignorance and tyranny has been a part of our world since the dawn of our species. The pursuit of power, greed, ignorance and other such attributes has taken a hold over the untrained human spirit for those who champion this egregious path.
I do not necessarily subscribe to the “Tabula Rasa” or blank slate in dealing with questions of our humanity in psychology and philosophical metaphysical ethics, but I can indeed provide source references with studies to back up the evidence on how our childhood empiricism and experience of the world effects us directly on a magnitude in the order of terabytes of information available in the scientific, behavioral and philosophical domains.
My thought is how manipulative we as a species tend to become in many social aspects of our lives, be it at the workplace, at home, or in our other societal relationships. The degree to which our indiscretions prevail is usually the only question that comes to mind, and as Plato concluded in his dialog “The Laws”, as Freud concluded in his book “Society and its Discontents”, we have a propensity to do harm in amongst ourselves. The plethora of authors writing about our bleak and nihilistic tendencies is rife through out the world. Personally I believe that a social re-engineering is plausible and the Zeitgeist movement has much merit and especially the work of Jacques Fresco and his Venus project. Unfortunately to get there, we must undergo a mass exodus from the status quo, the current market system and current monetary system.
As Peter Joesph would put it to paraphrase … we must take away the reinforcer’s, the sources that lead us into these types of dispositions. As B.F. Skinner would agree, the operant conditioning of a culture (or instrumental conditioning) is a form of learning in which an individual’s behavior is modified by its consequences; the behavior may change in form, frequency, or strength. Operant conditioning is a term that was coined by B.F Skinner in 1937. Operant conditioning is distinguished from classical conditioning (or respondent conditioning) in that operant conditioning deals with the modification of “voluntary behavior” or operant behavior. Operant behavior operates on the environment and is maintained by its consequences, while classical conditioning deals with the conditioning of reflexive (reflex) behaviors which are elicited by antecedent conditions. Behaviors conditioned via a classical conditioning procedure are not maintained by consequences. Of course we know by experience and examples of the world that “the powers that be” would want to squelch this idea, and that those in power whether it be in the capital building or in a corporate office, must protect it’s domination of the market or it’s power over the dominions.
I try not to digress, but for the average person in the world, for you and me, for our friends and family members, how do we deflect the atrocities? How do we divert the subversion of our higher selves in the world? How do we connect to a much more positive source? Many in the world have written and lectured, demonstrated and preached to us about human conduct, and how we should lead our lives. I think the answer must begin with ourselves. To bring about a daily example of how we live our lives, educate, and practice our own selves and create our own destiny despite what exits on the exterior societal realms.
This to many means we must endure the ignorance of others. This to many means we must be stronger than our peers, in order to survive the oppressive cults that exists in our darker natures. This does not make us weak if we choose this road, a path of non-resistance and non-violent resistance. The conclusions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Jesus of Nazareth, Confucius, Lau Tzu, Socrates, and Mahatma Gandhi are in agreement along the lines of this reasoning to cite only a few. Many pessimistic attributes may follow a mediocre understanding, but truly a movement must begin with the individual. The individual can influence others, and therefore a group of individuals can come together with an understanding. A chain of events can create a movement in a society to overcome the greater factions in bigger groups for social change to imbue itself and take hold. Of course the converse is also true to this statement. Look at our current society.
Like that of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, how would that scenario play out if you were stranded on that island.