“Men are as you wish to see them, look at them in kindness and you will do good both to them and to yourself. They will become better, and you too. It is simple, isn’t it?”
I was always fascinated with what is considered to be ‘normal’ for us, human beings. As Dr. Eric R. Maisel points out, “This is not an idle question without real-world consequences. The “treatment” of every single “mental disorder” that mental health professionals “diagnose,” from “depression” and “attention deficit disorder” on through “schizophrenia,” flows from how society construes “normal” and “abnormal.” This matter affects tens of millions of people annually; and affects everyone, really, since a person’s mental model of “what is normal?” is tremendously influenced by how society and its institutions define “normal.”
The matter of what is normal can’t be and must not be a mere statistical nicety. It can’t be and must not be “normal” to be a Christian just because 95% of your community is Christian. It can’t be and must not be “normal” to own slaves just because all the landowners in your state own slaves. “Normal” can’t mean and must not mean “what we see all the time” or “what we see the most of.” It must have a different meaning from that for it to mean anything of value to right-thinking people.
Nor can it mean “free of discomfort,” as if “normal” were the equivalent of oblivious and you were somehow “abnormal” when you were sentient, human, and real. This, however, is exactly the game played by the mental health industry: it makes this precise, illegitimate switch. It announces that when you feel a certain level of discomfort you are abnormal and you have a disorder. It equates abnormal with unwanted… In this view “normal” is living free of excessive discomfort; “abnormal” is feeling or acting significantly distressed. Normal, in this view, is destroying a village in wartime and not experiencing anything afterward; abnormal is experiencing something, and for a long time thereafter.
The consequences of conscience, reason, and awareness are labeled abnormal and robotic allegiance to wearing a pasted-on smiley face is designated normal. Is that what we really mean? Is that what we really want?”
How would you define what is NORMAL
for us, human beings?
Are you NORMAL?
“We don’t need a melting pot…, folks. We need a salad bowl. In a salad bowl, you put in the different things. You want the vegetables – the lettuce, the cucumbers, the onions, the green peppers – to maintain their identity. You appreciate differences.”
“My first exposure to murder,” the Nobel-winning economist Amartya Sen writes in “Identity and Violence” “occurred when I was 11.” It was 1944, a few years before the end of the British Raj and a period of widespread Hindu-Muslim riots. The victim was “a profusely bleeding unknown person suddenly stumbling through the gate to our garden, asking for help and a little water.” Rushed to the hospital by Sen’s father, the man died there of his injuries. He was Kader Mia, a Muslim day laborer knifed by Hindus. He had been asked by his wife not to go into a hostile area of then-undivided Bengal. But he had to feed his starving family, and he paid with his life.
To the young Sen, this event was not just traumatic but mystifying. How was it, Sen asks …, that “… human beings … were suddenly transformed into the ruthless Hindus and fierce Muslims…”? And how was it that Kader Mia would be seen as having only one identity — that of being Muslim — by Hindus who were, like him, out in the unprotected open because they too were starving? “For a bewildered child,” Sen remembers, “the violence of identity was extraordinarily hard to grasp.” And, he confesses, “it is not particularly easy even for a still bewildered elderly adult.”
In his book “Identity and Violence” Amartya Sentakes aims at what he calls the ” ‘solitarist’ approach to human identity, which sees human beings as members of exactly one group.” This view, he argues, is not just morally undesirable, but descriptively wrong. Instead, Sen invokes the myriad identities within each individual. The people of the world can be classified according to many other partitions, each of which has some—often far-reaching—relevance in our lives: nationalities, locations, occupations, social status, languages, politics, and many others, including identity common to all – HUMANS. Because all of us contain multitudes, we can choose among our identities, emphasizing those we share with others rather than those we do not.
Let’s focus on our shared identities and appreciate differences for peace around the world.
* * *
Was it easier for you to accept the differences between the women in the video below, once you saw their shared identity?
Mass media exert extraordinarily powerful influences upon the way we think and see the world around us. Unfortunately, media is full of viruses of the mind, which include objectification of humans.
Objectification is a term to describe seeing human beings as objects. Representations show people, not as individuals, but as things to be owned, sold, used, etc., without regard to their personality or dignity. Sexual objectification is the act of treating a person merely as an instrument of sexual pleasure, making them a “sex object”.
Are we living in a culture of sexual liberation as some might argue, or are we being treated and learning to treat ourselves as mere objects?
A plethora of research has found sexual objectification to have a range of negative consequences:
“Sexualized portrayals of women have been found to legitimize or exacerbate violence against women and girls, as well as sexual harassment and anti-women attitudes among men and boys,” Hatton says. “Such images also have been shown to increase rates of body dissatisfaction and/or eating disorders among men, women and girls; and they have even been shown to decrease sexual satisfaction among both men and women.”
As Carole Heldman PHD points out, “Women who grow up in a culture with widespread sexual objectification tend to view themselves as objects of desire for others. This internalized sexual objectification has been linked to problems with mental health (e.g., clinical depression, “habitual body monitoring”), eating disorders, body shame, self-worth and life satisfaction, cognitive functioning, motor functioning, sexual dysfunction… Beyond the internal effects, sexually objectified women are dehumanized by others and seen as less competent and worthy of empathy by both men and women.”
Laci Green highlighted some of these points very well in her YouTube video on sexual objectification:
Are women the only victims of objectification? Of course not. Sex sells and as Lisa Wade notes, men’s sexual objectification is on the rise too. Objectifying men alongside women certainly isn’t progress and the forces behind this ‘equality’ have nothing to do with justice. Unfortunately, market forces under capitalism exploit whatever fertile ground is available.
From Sociological Images
When talking about sexual objectification, it is important to point out the differences between sexy and sexual. If one thinks of the subject/object dichotomy that dominates thinking in Western culture, subjects act and objects are acted upon. Subjects are sexual, while objects are sexy. While most people enjoy being perceived as ‘sexy’ or ‘sexually appealing’ by their loving and caring partners, hardly anyone likes to be perceived as a mere object. We are all humans after all, with souls, minds and feelings.
Sex sells however the purchasing decision is still yours. Choose wisely.
“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.”
“To all people, religious and nonbelieving, I make this appeal. Always embrace the common humanity that lies at the heart of us all. Always affirm the oneness of our human family…. Let not your differences from the views of others come in the way of the wish for their peace, happiness, and well-being.”
From Prayer for Oneness
Few facts have become more evident in our lifetime than the fact that we live in a pluralistic world and society. With the rapid increase in the transmission of information and the ability to travel on a worldwide scale has also come an increasing awareness that both our world and society contain a multitude of diverse and conflicting viewpoints on many different issues. Nowhere is this pluralism more evident than in the realm of religion. What should our attitude be toward other religions?
In spite of the differences, all major religions foster a common “religious experience” aimed at the moral and ethical improvement of man. As Ian Gardner points out, ” irrespective of the colour of the cow, the milk is white” alluding to the fact that “there is but one spiritual Truth irrespective of which Master expounds it.” John Hick, a noted religious philosopher, supports that view, providing a ‘pluralistic hypothesis’ as a solution to conflict between religions. This hypothesis is based on a simple concept: religions are based on spiritual experience of the divine truth – but even in the best of us those experiences are experienced through the lens of our cultural conditionings. Hence the differences in the way that divine truth is presented in different religions.
“Once the Prophet was seated at some place in Madinah, along with his Companions. During this time a funeral procession passed by. On seeing this, the Prophet stood up out of respect. One of his companions remarked that the funeral was that of a Jew. The Prophet replied, “Was he not a human being?” (Sahîh Bukhârî)
We are all human beings inspite of the differences between us. Let’s always remember that.
From Beyond Minds
“Man is the Reasoning Animal. Such is the claim. I think it is open to dispute. Indeed, my experiments have proven to me that he is the Unreasoning Animal… In truth, man is incurably foolish. Simple things which other animals easily learn, he is incapable of learning. Among my experiments was this. In an hour I taught a cat and a dog to be friends. I put them in a cage. In another hour I taught them to be friends with a rabbit. In the course of two days I was able to add a fox, a goose, a squirrel and some doves. Finally a monkey. They lived together in peace; even affectionately.
Next, in another cage I confined an Irish Catholic from Tipperary, and as soon as he seemed tame I added a Scotch Presbyterian from Aberdeen. Next a Turk from Constantinople; a Greek Christian from Crete; an Armenian; a Methodist from the wilds of Arkansas; a Buddhist from China; a Brahman from Benares. Finally, a Salvation Army Colonel from Wapping. Then I stayed away for two whole days. When I came back to note results, the cage of Higher Animals was all right, but in the other there was but a chaos of gory odds and ends of turbans and fezzes and plaids and bones and flesh–not a specimen left alive. These Reasoning Animals had disagreed on a theological detail and carried the matter to a Higher Court.”
From The Mojo Company
From Global Awakening
“Perhaps it is just me, but I’d be wary of anyone whose belief system is the only thing standing between them and repulsive behavior. Why not assume that our humanity, including the self-control needed for a livable society, is built into us? Does anyone truly believe that our ancestors lacked rules of right and wrong before they had religion? Did they never assist others in need, or complain about an unfair deal?
Human morality must be quite a bit older than religion and civilization. It may, in fact, be older than humanity itself. Other primates live in highly structured social groups in which rules and inhibitions apply and mutual aid is a daily occurrence. Acts of genuine kindness do occur in animals as they do in humans. Altruistic behavior serves a cooperative group life, which benefits the actors of such behavior, yet the behavior is fueled by its own autonomous motivations, which vary from self-serving to other-regarding.
The animal kingdom offers so many examples that I surely cannot summarize them here (see my new book, The Age of Empathy), but the interesting part is not so much whether animals have empathy and compassion, but how it works.
In one experiment, we placed two capuchin monkeys side by side: separate, but in full view. One of them needed to barter with us with small plastic tokens. The critical test came when we offered a choice between two differently colored tokens with different meaning: one token was “selfish,” the other “prosocial.” If the bartering monkey picked the selfish token, it received a small piece of apple for returning it, but its partner got nothing. The prosocial token, on the other hand, rewarded both monkeys equally at the same time. The monkeys gradually began to prefer the prosocial token. The procedures were repeated many times with different pairs of monkeys and different sets of tokens, and the monkeys kept picking the prosocial option showing how much they care about each other’s welfare.
A flourishing new field of evolutionary ethics focuses on how humans solve moral dilemmas (usually not in a rational Kantian way), which parts of the brain are involved (often old “emotional” parts), why moral tendencies evolved in the human species (probably to promote cooperation), what kind of animal parallels can be found (from prosocial tendencies to obeying social rules), how empathy evolved out of mammalian maternal care (which explains why in human adults the hormone oxytocin stimulates trust and empathy), and how religion piggy-backs on moral sentiments to promote a cohesive society. The sequence of how various tendencies came into being is: first social instincts and empathy, then morality, and finally religion…
If human morality is part of the larger scheme of nature, there is neither a good reason to look at evolutionary theory as undermining morality nor to look at God as a requirement for it. … I have never seen convincing evidence that a belief in God keeps people from immoral behavior. Those who think that without God humanity would lack a moral compass totally underestimate the antiquity of our moral sense.”
From Morals Without God
As Richard Brodie points out in his book “Virus of the mind”, the psychological differences between males and females began when mammals evolved to put all their eggs in one basket, so to speak: inside the female. Actually, sexual differentiation started even earlier than that, practically at the origin of sex, when females evolved to produce big, relatively expensive ova and males evolved to produce small, cheap sperm. The splitting apart of the behaviour of males and females stems from the fact that female DNA has a big commitment to an investment in each fertilized egg, while male DNA has nothing to lose and everything to gain by giving its host the tendency to fertilize every female in sight, then prowl around looking for the ones that aren’t in sight…
We inherited many of our drives and tendencies from animals and prehistoric humans, before concepts such as marriage and monogamy arrived. The DNA of males who mated with only one female had a terrible disadvantage: the other males that are going around spreading their DNA as widely as possible were going to have a lot more children. Without considering any other factors, males evolved to reproduce as much as possible. Remember: it’s all about DNA.
Females, on the other hand, generally can’t produce more than 1 fetus a year and therefore have only a few chances per lifetime to pass on their DNA and many eager suitors. Therefore they evolved to be a bit more selective. How did they select? A number of factors were important. First, they wanted a male with ‘good’ DNA, whatever that means…. Second, they wanted a mate who would invest his time and resources in the children while they were immature and vulnerable, thus increasing their chance of survival.
Given the priorities of females, males evolved in one of two directions: either become stronger and more handsome, or become a convincing potential husband and father.
As the results, throughout history, males have been pushing culture in the direction of expansion, conquest, and increased power, as power provides access to more mates and helps to spread the ‘selfish gene’. Females however have been so-called civilizing force, striving for security and safety that would increase the chances of survival for their children.
It’s important to remember that this evolution of sex characteristics is not happening by plan or design. It is based on the interaction between the chaotic force of random variation and the organizing force of evolution. Neither males not females can voluntarily choose biological characteristics, predetermined by selfish gene.
When talking about human evolution, the following should be taken into consideration: