Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Sadly, Prejudice & Bigotry IS Natural

I saw this lovely photo on Facebook today with the caption: "No one is born racist."

Courtesy of "Indy Sagu"
Sadly, yes and no.

The longer kids grow up in isolation from people who look and act differently from their little 'tribe,' the more that their brain pathways get laid down permanently, fortifying our natural human instinct to fear those who are 'not our tribe.'  What began as a cautious survival tactic in our ever more complex human brain's while evolving over 7 million years has become a real problem over the past 7 thousand years since we gradually stopped living in nomadic tribes and the catastrophically expanding human flood of babies began to populate permanent settlements, then towns, then cities.  Ironically we simply never think about the earth's most recent mass extinction force -- we call it "every human's right to produce as many genetic copies as we have the whim for."

It starts off innocently enough, just raising kids in a 'safe environment' but, given the option, despite our being a social species, we are first and foremost (again, an 'accident of our evolution') selfish and greedy.  Without the need to share a cooking fire and depend upon daily cooperation for food gathering, we will choose a private house for our shared family genes with a walled garden out back.   We will choose a neighbourhood where everyone looks like us, acts like us and goes to the same place of worship.  Hell, we'll even choose to only consume media that repeats our early familial imprinting of 'moral and values' so that our 'new normal' is a relatively small tribal enclave in a large country that we feel extremely tribal about (prepared to die for 'God and country'). 

So the reality of our human nature is that, without regular exposure to very different human tribes, people from any culture living in isolation will naturally fear 'not our tribe.'  No one is doing this on purpose, it is just the way our brains work.  While very clever human brains can logically get past these prejudices, the least intelligent individuals from any community will be very vocal about their fears.   If the majority of any group, given the bell curve of human IQ and personality types, live in rural communities and watch only media (and listen to religious leaders) who reinforce their prejudices and have the right to vote, they'll vote for the most right wing conservatives who press hardest on their 'we are the chosen/special people' brain pathways. We call the latter tribal instinct 'nationalism' and powerful enough for us to agree to lose our lives to 'defend it.'

As often only very egotistical, and often low-empathy, individuals are willing to embrace the hardships that come with fighting to the very highest political positions, after they are in power they tend to A) have to bend to the demands of their wealthiest 1% supporters (who own stock in the arms businesses) and B) leverage the instinctive nationalism of their most numerous supporters: poor and middle class voters.  So off to war the latter go against those 'not of our tribe' to "defend freedom," while conveniently emptying the warehouses of the arms companies and necessitating more production of those armaments and hence much more profit.

So prejudice IS natural, but can be unlearned if parents accept the truism that there are no such thing as 'parenting instincts' -- other than extreme protectionism (survival of one's 50% genetic investment) and parents' egotistical drive to imprint whatever was imprinted upon them onto their kids (religion and 'our tribe' culture). By accepting that 'it takes a tribe to raise a child' and exposing kids to all cultures regularly, prejudice can be mitigated and a less angry, violent world created. 

“Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.”
Potter Stewart

What is right for the majority is rarely what any individual, or individual family, will choose to do if given the option, hence the need for government and trying to ensure that politicians are restricted from gradually doing what is best for their financial donors versus the general populace.
Why is this OK?

(Note that taxes for the wealthy in the US have dropped from 70% after World War II, to almost nothing for those who employ tax evasion specialists.  My question is, once a family is pulling in about $350,000 per year in household income for 30 years, what do they need more money for, exactly?  No.  Seriously.  If you believe so strongly in the idea that hard work, smarts and good luck should pay off with incredible wealth that no family can ever really use, much less need, then why do you support the notion that the kids of these smart entrepreneurs, who have NEVER DONE A THING to deserve it, can not only keep it all, but can lobby to pay less and less taxes on their family honey pot?)

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