Monday, July 20, 2009

How Did We Get To Here?

To see how we got into the mess we're in today, we need to go back to the start of biological evolution to provide a plausible explanation. In the beginning, it was the fair and loving ancestors that were naturally selected against by the more greedy and violent ones. So we might say that we were bred to be cut throat competitors by nature. In the same way that, on the African savannah, naturally happy and calm creatures typically got outbred or eaten.

Some stand by the false premise that people are totally a product of their environment and upbringing. Even if you did buy into this fallacy, take a look at our environment. We used to like to watch lions eating people in "sold out arenas", standing room only. In what we now call civilized society, those few inches on the mile long timeline humans have been around, we don't do this anymore. Now we only demand cut throat competition of our children through sports or wars. Or we prod them to claw their way to the top in business, school or other endeavors, whatever it takes. But at what cost? Look around and see the price we have paid.

Some of the qualities that we see as constituting mental health have actually been bred out of modern humans because they fall prey more often to those that are more likely to do them in. A person who is calm and loving gets clubbed over the head by the sociopathic brute who goes on to father more, spreading those genes while the healthy genetics are abruptly ended. A kind of "nice guys finish last" scenario.

Lets break this down a little. What is it that makes one person one way and another person the way they are? Modern science tells us that a lot of it is the unique chemistry of each person's brain. Current brain imaging technology has shown this to be the case.

Therefore, for most of our development some of our best traits have been selected away. And therein lies a clue to the situation we find ourselves in. The media would have you believe that those brutish sorts are mostly incarcerated. But many of the violent crimes are actually never solved. And others are actually sanctioned, such as in war. Even of those jailed perpetrators, many had children before they were caught and some even are afforded conjugal visits now.

Hey, you may protest, we have free will and our choices are what is responsible for behaviors by each individual. This is true in part. However, I would contend that the decision of a person to make a particular choice is highly influenced by his or her make up. Obviously I am not saying that all of the healthiest folks have been bred out of society, but many have. Nature can be cruel as we all know.

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