Some Old Guy
5 ideas you can use to explain everything that happens
Updated: Mar 18, 2020
This started as a desire to understand money. One day in Quaker Meeting it came to me that money was how we measure our obligations to people we do not love. And my journey began.
DISCLAIMER: What follows is a point of view. Each of us is a body moving through time and space in a unique way. Human societies are a conversation through action, of the patterns we perceive in the world and how we should use those patterns to act in the future.
1 Apparently the earth has been absorbing and reflecting energy from the sun for 4.543 billion years. All living things are the result of this energy transforming from chemicals, to plants, to animals, light and sound.
2. The function of the life force on this planet is to create as many variant reproducing life forms as possible to fill the constantly changing environment.
3. Because to live is to be in TIME, the key behavior built into all life forms is the perception of patterns in the environment and the use of those patterns to predict future events for that individual. Successful predictions enhance food quality which increases reproductive opportunities.
4. Humans are mammals with the same evolved brain structures and behaviors as all other mammals. Mammals live in groups. Group status is the determinant of whether we feel and are seen as successful. Successful mammals get better food and more reproductive opportunities.
In pre-history most humans lived in small groups. In those groups we did not often meet strangers. Now we live in a world where meeting strangers is the norm and we have created social protocols (manners) and money to let us interact with strangers without violence. We still have our family & friends tribe, but it is geographically distributed.
Loretta Graziano Breuning PhD (Professor Emerita of Management at California State University, East Bay) has a web site (https://innermammalinstitute.org) and several books that explain this in much greater detail. Here's a short summary of some of them:
“High-status animals get the best mating opportunities and foraging spots. Natural selection built the brain that causes our frustrations. Mammals seek status because it stimulates serotonin, which feels good. Happiness comes from dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphin. The brain releases Cortisol (bad-feelings) when an internal or external threat is perceived. Cortisol gets your attention and makes you feel like you will die if you don't make it stop. Your past cortisol spurts connected neurons that turn on your cortisol today. Thus, a brief delay or small disappointment can feel like an urgent survival threat. In the state of nature, this promotes survival by motivating a mammal to act fast when it sees signs of past threats to its safety, food, or reproductive success.”
Our "mammal brain" is non verbal, but does express itself through our emotions and behaviors, which are all about how the above named chemicals make us feel as we perceive our constantly changing status.
Other recent brain research has shown that when we are not engaged in a physical task, our (mammal) brains are constantly monitoring our status and plotting how to improve it with whatever group we find ourselves in. (Apparently this was one of those accidental discoveries. When people whose brains were being scanned while performing specific tasks completed the task, it was noticed that other parts of the brain immediately became very busy. When the people were asked what they were thinking about, they all were thinking about their relationships and what they were going to do next with those people. (This is the 3rd idea above – patterns and predictions)
These books were helpful in providing insights on this: Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the adaptive Unconscious by Timothy D. Wilson, Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman
Money – Because we live in a society surrounded by strangers that is so different from the one our behavior evolved in, we have invented money, first as a medium of exchange, but also as a way to display our status to strangers, through our status objects. This CBC Under the Influence episode was a good illustration of this. And because money is status and we can’t have enough status, we can’t have enough money. Money is a good medium of exchange but it is not a good store of value, and that’s where the trouble starts.
I think that our conscious minds are much like the CEO of a large corporation - They think they are in charge and in control, and that they know everything that is happening with the body-mind. But like the CEO, our consciousness really only has vague summaries of all the detailed processes managed by the reptile brain and mammal brains. These processes are manifested by the way we feel both physically and emotionally. Like the CEO, it is the function of the conscious mind to do medium and long range planning, and to 'spin' the story of our lives mostly in a status positive manner, to ourselves and others. I believe we are 'conscious' much less than our conscious minds think we are. It is my experience that my conscious mind is ALWAYS the last to know what's really happening and then it goes to work creating the ‘logical’ reasons to explain why I feel that way. Logical reasons have only a small influence on mammal brain produced ‘feelings’ created by dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, endorphin and cortisol.
5. The life force is spirit, is the world, both inanimate and animate. We need to make this the lens we view the world through. I have had some direct experience of this which I discuss in another post.
To sum up...
1. Something's afoot, and has been for billions of years. We are part of it but don't have much control. Flow with it.
2. As living things our purpose here is the same as every other living thing, to continue our species.
3. All living things survive by seeing patterns in the environment and making predictions about what trouble we see coming our way.
4. Our next important survival trait is our desire to improve our status in the group of humans we interact with. Higher status brings better food and more reproduction opportunities.
5. The world and the universe, here, there, then, now and the future are one.
Given the above I can see that there are no 'evil' people. There are just people in different situations acting as mammals do. Some of these behaviors result in terrible things happening to other people. Because there is a limit to how many people we can relate to (Dunbar’s number) our evolved mammal brain does not naturally see other people as all being equal. It sees them as strangers, competitors or people with higher or lower status. The spirit within us (which is rarely allowed to dominate our perception) knows that the earth and all living things are one thing. More reason for quaking.
So it occurs to me, given what Loretta Graziano Breuning, Graeber (Debt - the first 5000 years), Eisenstein (Sacred Economics-free PDF) and others cited in this document know about our behavior, perhaps it might be useful to create a think tank or some group to discuss and investigate ways to modify how we organize ourselves to be more in line with what we now think are our behavioral tendencies, with all the psychological wounds we all carry.
In the end, I feel the suggested think tank would have to concentrate on subtly and slowly changing cultural values, starting with the young, because...
The Energy of Violence
People have always been violent with one another to survive. There have always been wars. We know that those trained to kill and destroy others lives, cause trouble in their societies, when the war is over.
We know that putting First Nation’s children in residential schools where they were physically and emotionally abused has created mighty rivers of violence and addiction and sorrow that will flow through our society for many more generations.
We know that sexually abused children often become abusers.
Many of us want peace.
Peace will not come as long as the energy of violence is allowed to keep transmitting itself from adult to child, from stranger to stranger, country to country.
We know how to stop this but often our own wounds prevent us from acting.
The most physically and emotionally wounded must be treated with compassion and care. We must help them to release the energy that drives them to pass their wounds on. They must be seen and recognized, not as the poor, the addicted, and the insane, but as those whom we ALL have allowed to be hurt most grievously, while we have attempted to protect ourselves from the same hurt.
We must show our compassion and care with food, housing, and companionship. They cannot be expected to "work" for these things because of their wounds. We must not make them beg. When they can help us in return, they will.
None of us escapes this life unhurt. It should be our life's work NOT to pass on our wounds to those around us and after us. It should be our life's work to heal the wounds we can.
All our children should be raised with the knowledge that physical and emotional wounding is as dangerous to us all as a nuclear bomb. They should know that the harsh word and the physical blow start a chain reaction of pain and sorrow that will be passed on from person to person until someone can reach out and help transform it.
In many religions this energy is called evil or Satan. It is not evil. It is our bodies responding to the energy we receive, and passing it on. Albert Einstein said “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.”
We must understand that those so damaged that we can only lock them away and call it justice, are but ourselves, in other bodies suffering from different wounds.