King of the Forest, Part Two

Continuing . . .

And that is my thesis – that by reaching for strength, by making surviving our group conflict by way of superior violence the goal and reaching only for that, we are forever eating the seed corn, forever eating the first marshmallow. I mean, that was Dr. Strangelove, I think, the entire planet going up in a fight over the first marshmallow, surviving a fight by fighting and winning. We can’t trust each other not to do the stupid thing . . . so we do the stupid thing. What’s a response you can’t explain or control?

Genetics. Specifically, some active gene in the players, specifically, some gene with this version, the fight first version activated – activated by your Momma. By your Dad. Vicariously by all the adults by way of their deflecting children, if not directly by authorized or semi-authorized adults, teachers, preachers, coaches. To say nothing of the professionals, the doctors, the police, the guards.

Your genes, your body knows everyone else is going to take the first marshmallow – the win, and so the fight – when your mom and your dad take the first win – from you. And your genes write the lesson more or less in stone. Isn’t that right? I mean if we as children took the literal marshmallow test and grew out of taking the first one, what have we really learned to trust? Something about that the adults wouldn’t destroy their own test by reneging, perhaps. Something like object permanence, I suppose, in these circumstances, I am probably going to get more marshmallows.

OK, maybe it’s as they say, for individuals, we learn how to wait for the reward.

I think the entire paragraph, both those scenarios happen in a single person, indeed, in all of us. I think the gene gets programmed as a group function, for an aggressive default response (antisocialization), and the individual can learn the exceptions table, for within their group (pro- or simply socialization). Ah, it’s the same as last week’s blog, isn’t it, the child learns a hard binary from the magical, human only social engineering practice of the child abuse we call “discipline.”

It was my hope, my dream, and even my plan to raise my kids without ever doing that, without ever just winning battles with them, and to see them grow up and escape the marshmallow test metaphor, to see them seek something better than the wins and so the fights, but I have no results to report, of course, the world interfered with my test. I wonder if I am making this complaint now, I wonder if there is some germ of truth to my fantasy of my own mother perhaps having some gentleness with me and I can say these things because the activation of my warrior genes failed, somehow?

Highly unlikely. I’m antisocial, sometimes I lose hope and would burn the whole world down and start over. More likely, these days I think my differences with the world are a spectrum matter, some unnamed neuro-divergence on my part, and anyway there was plenty of abuse in my family. But I think it’s a theoretical possibility, again, I had hoped to arrange that for my children for real, and unabused humans, homo sapiens with the warrior genes dormant – I want to see that.

Don’t we all? I mean, wouldn’t we, if . . . ? Don’t we want to want to see that?

I wasn’t thinking about whether they would grow up “strong,” honestly, I was putting all my hopes in the “good” kind of strong, if they had all the love and support and no abuse at home, they’d be resilient, I was more concerned about their mental capacities, I feel we trade truth and so intelligence for activating the strength genes. My idea was to not threaten them and so not perhaps dull their minds with cortisol and fear, I was pretty sure they’d be brilliant. While the experiment was compromised from the start – Mom had unilateral ideas and methods – it looked like that for a while, the kids had terrific grades and such.

But yeah.

We’re stuck here, as long as strength and security are as high a goal as we are allowed to imagine, with the fantastic, unreachable goal of somehow gaining enough strength to be invulnerable to our own species’ strength, we as a group, lack the capacity to wait for the reward of peace – again, it’s almost the first thing we were taught, is not to, and no-one seems to remember there was ever another option, because spanking, because they didn’t wait for us to learn it in peace and save the relationship, they wanted the marshmallow now and didn’t seem to mind making us hate them over it, like it was all part of the plan or something.

Ouch. Damn, sometimes I feel like Joyce, just rattling off syllables until it hurts.

Jeff

Dec. 20th., 20121

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