picture by @sweetspectre18 (on Twitter)
It’s the central unsolved question of life I’m after, why are we like this, why the hate, why the conflict? Why do so many think these are the path to something good?
I’ve been blustering, I solved it, answered that, that it’s abuse, our abusive social control that makes us angry, aggressive, and competitive, and I’ll stand behind that, but I see it’s not enough, that I may have connected some dots, but I haven’t been able to make it matter, somehow.
When I first started trying to write my way through this puzzle, I thought and said that we were simply mistaken, that we think the spankings and the prisons, the deterrents will improve the world, and that what was required was a logical argument that highlighted the dark side, but several years later, I’ve come to a more scientific sort of view, that says what is really happening is what drives things, not hopes and deterrents. That what we think of as damage from abuse, that this is being selected for in as much as it exists.
If the damage adds up to aggression, then we are selecting for our aggression when we abuse, which is my thesis. A negative experience makes for a negative outlook, and a negative outlook tilts humanity towards aggression, because if people are bad, then they are more viable as targets, it’s less of a crime to hurt one, up to and including being all too often obligatory. A biased set of initial conditions skews all the science. Spankings equal war, is my slogan these days.
It’s self-fulfilling, the logic, if we are “bad,” we are abused, and if we are abused we are bad. I don’t fault it so far even today, I think that, if you abuse you are bad – so if you do, if you did, if I got spanked, then I think that, if even Mom who birthed and nursed me and has a 50% interest in my genes, if she abuses, OK, I get it, people are bad. They must be, right? You may not cop to it out loud like that, but if you’re as smart as a crow, then I know your brain put it together, with or without you. The logic is there, whether or not we are.
It’s the “if” I would have you take home. Without that, who knows?
Aggression is being selected for, this is my answer to “what is punishment,” and again, I’m fairly confident this is the case – but I am still banging my head on my desk trying to figure out why we would, how many generations we are going to live blindly in this Red Queen’s game where all of humanity is socially and genetically engineering itself for a level aggression above what it may have otherwise been.
If this is all true, then how does anyone stop?
What society would throw down this weapon surrounded by rivals? None, let me tell you, this human antisocialization of ourselves, this is possibly our most sacredly held, unquestioned and violently defended behaviours (and therefore a job for Supernaysayer!). They all say they are the only ones and must preserve the tradition, but really, they all do it and the one who stops is quickly selected out. It’s the same, crucial, sacred. Survival critical.
I try to make the point that it is now survival critical that humanity find another way to be.
I feel in my heart of hearts that any person serious enough to be in charge of a country or a faith understands all this completely. Certainly, I know the army generals understand the principle and do not overly coddle the troops and know that abuse feeds aggression. I worry that changing this would be an all people sort of enterprise and, well. Does everyone? Does everyone know this in their hearts already?
Certainly when we see our “corrections” aren’t working or necessary, that our resulting “toughness” is always the fallback rationalization. Do we all, in our deeper selves, understand that it’s literal and true?
I think it’s knowledge we hold in parentheses somehow, because if not, surely we would object to everyone else doing it. Surely we would rail at our enemies to be nicer to their children so that they would be less formidable in battle, less likely to have warlike leaders. No?
Well, sort of. It’s a working system; that doesn’t mean it’s a conscious, above board, agreed upon system anybody admits to. It’s supposed to be an accident when we damage our kids. I was as gentle a parent as I could imagine to be, but still, when there was tension, when things were hard, I felt used and manipulated, forced into repeating some ancient drama I wanted no part of. I imagine most folks get over it somehow. The sense of eternal recurrence was strong.
I think, two paragraphs up there, I think maybe that’s a tack I should try, talk about it as a “them” thing instead of an “us” thing, scare ’em if you want them to pay attention. Maybe. Because this seems to be as close as we ever approach to “why.” It’s not straight up rational and conscious – but damnit, my description of it should be.
Why not, more like.
Jan. 12th., 2021