In part one of this theme, I did not provide much in the way of positives in terms of teaching human children (or adults for that matter). Bea Elliott, one of my greatly appreciated and esteemed readers, noted in her comment on the post that it was "an awful lot of awful evidence that things will always remain on the dismal slant." (some of Bea's fine work can be found here and here)
I really don't think things will always be slanted toward the dismal and there is much evidence that we human animals aren't naturally oriented in that direction. However, the fact is that we seem to be awfully susceptible to being snookered (by ourselves) into viewing our world in such ways that result in our behaving dismally...that's what I was trying to express.
We don't thrive in those sorts of circumstances however...violent and destructive and harmful behaviors aren't growth promoting ways of being nor are we particularly at ease with them. We may "adjust" to them (and often do) but it seems to cost most of us quite a bit. For instance, we have the ability to become 'desensitized' to violence...and that's troubling...yet what is hopeful here is the fact that we react to violence in the first place. In other words, we react negatively to exposure to violence and in order to be able to tolerate it we have to make some kind of adjustment and/or accommodation. Which strongly suggests that our baseline level of being is violence aversive. We naturally don't like it. We can "adjust" to it but the adjusting costs us in terms of emotional resources and effort.
Another very positive thing about we human animals is the fact that we make great efforts to hide places of violence and destruction from ourselves. Either by physically locating places of horror and harm out of sight...or by deluding and lying to our own perceptions and thereby pretending that they don't exist...or that they don't matter. It is not by accident that the great harmers, both of contemporary and historical times, expend much effort on hiding what they do.
The massive Holocaust in Europe was not undertaken in Germany itself, rather the murder factories were established in out of the way places in Poland. The torture carried out by the United States in its "war" on terrorism is carried out in "dark" sites and hidden bases and remote locations. The agents of repression and intimidation are called "secret" police...in some unconscious recognition of our baseline revulsion at such activities. The proliferation of "ag-gag" efforts on the part of lawmakers here in the US is another instance of our knowing, without openly acknowledging, that the activities we are trying to hide are repulsive to most.
No, it isn't all dismal, nor do I believe it will always be...but our predilection to "other" those who differ from the in-power groups and then to denigrate and persecute the "others" is a strong strain in our make-up and one that we must struggle against constantly and diligently. Being cautious about the unfamiliar, being afraid of the novel...these are strategies that likely assisted in survival (in evolutionary terms)...yet these useful strategies are so terribly easily tumped over into demonization and hatred of and harm to the different.
No, it isn't all dismal, only the disturbed and the deficient aren't disturbed by violence...yet we seem to listen way too often to those who seek violence. We're a mixed bag of impulses and abilities and the voices and influence of the harmers seem to overwhelm those who seek not to harm...but it doesn't have to be that way.
The ultimate expression of commitment to equality and respect for all is veganism and the secret weapon that the vegan way of living has going for it is that we are animals who are disturbed by violence. It might be a small still voice, that disturbance...but it is natural and normal and it is the most reliable ally of a vegan world. Or so it seems to me.
7 months ago