Today’s raging scandal in America has to do with the extensive amount of sexual harassment or abuse of women by males in our country. It is being made evident by the women who are openly registering complaints about publicly recognized males, and it doesn’t take much to imagine that the same kind of abuse goes on unrecognized among the common people of our society.
Harassment or abuse of any kind towards anyone should be equally condemned by us, not only because it is wrong for people with more power to abuse those with less power, but because it is just plain morally wrong and something that clearly violates the universal God-given principle of “do onto others as you would have them do unto you”.
I find it extremely saddening that those who publicly speak out about this latest American scandal are, by and large, individuals who appear to be highly ignorant of human behavior, but, despite that, brazenly present their conclusions about what should be done about the problem. Typically, the conclusions are that we must give more protection to the underdogs and more punishment to the perpetrators.
Those kinds of solutions have been tried through the ages and have hardly made any dent in the ongoing abuse of individuals by other individuals. As in many preceding eras, similar scandals tend to take on a fervor that turns into some form of witch hunting with the intent to punish rather than rationally evaluate the facts and evidence of perpetrator behaviors. So, other than immediate gratification for revenge on some perpetrators by their victims or society, we learn nothing from that process about how to reduce mankind’s abuse to itself for the future. And, abusive behavior goes on and on in some form or another.
This issue is not about the abuse of women by men, it is about the abuse of humans by other humans. The answer to this issue is not accusation and punishment, it is about the development of moral and caring characters in our progeny so that they would not have the same kinds of insensitive and self-serving motivations and behaviors towards others as appears to prevail in so many of us. No one is ever fixed by punishment, they are simply held at bay while the punishment is present, and when it is removed they go back to being the persons they always were.
Obviously, developmental education is the answer. If we could develop systems for children to learn how to empathize with the feelings and needs of peers and others, to have compassion for the pains and difficulties of others, to feel the positive glow of having done something good for or helped someone else, to be able to express their own feelings, needs and fears openly to others and believe that they would receive positive support and encouragement, something that they could pass forward through their own actions with others, we would then see a significant reduction in the various forms of abuses that humans suffer from each other.
This only makes sense, but then reality hits us. Parents are notoriously incompetent in providing such developmental support for their children at best, and, at worst, they are the perpetrators of abuse and pain for their children, creating in them the deep hurts and resentments that eventually become the motivations for causing pain in others.
However, teachers are also grossly incompetent in understanding anything about human behavior, and the best of teachers are those who have developed caring and supportive styles of handling their children through their own life’s experiences, but they do not have much knowledge of the basics of human behavior change that can actually help shape the values and personality traits of the children whom they teach. By and large, our schools are still in sync with our American values, namely, put all the emphasis on teaching our children numeric and verbal skills so they could become productive employees and workers regardless of the kinds of personalities or values they developed. That is, keep our workforces flowing into our economic system.
Finally, the other institutions that should have significant effect on the development of our moral character, the churches, have also failed significantly in that goal. Rather than putting emphasis on the development of human compassion, love for one another, and being caring to others rather than just ourselves, churches seem to only give superficial lip service to those values because they are usually most obsessed by having people accept and believe in church doctrines that underscore obedience and a focus on the afterlife. Furthermore, church leaders are as ignorant of human behavior as teachers and parents and probably have no idea of how those important human values which the churches embrace can actually become instilled in their children.
So, what do we do about all of this? First, don’t abandon one of the most important social values of humanity, that of not condemning people until they can be proven guilty of whatever they have been accused. Clear, factual evidence and rational thought are essential for fairness and justice in our dealings with each other. Emotions and mob mentality only lead to continued harm of each other. Secondly, let’s start thinking about ways in which we can build into our children the high moral and humane values needed for caring interpersonal behaviors as they grow and develop. This can be done if we are willing to give it sufficient time and energy and effort and have a willingness to modify our views and beliefs with new information.
Science and psychology provide a great deal of proven information about how to shape desired characteristics in our children and encourage those characteristics as they become adults. However, for us to accept and apply this information, we have to be willing to give up our societal and institutional traditions that block us from changing the ways we view people and bring up our children. The biggest issue we have to face and overcome is that of social and institutional change. Can we re-examine the amoral aspects of our capitalistic system that allows for and even encourages human abuse of others? Can we re-examine the priorities of our educational systems to consider making
highly valued human characteristics, such as love of one another, core developmental goals? Can churches re-examine their traditions to eliminate those that perpetuate inequality among people and acceptance of social injustices, and can they redirect their energies to helping us lead our lives on this earth in the most humane ways rather than constantly reemphasizing how great heaven will be after we die?
I know I make sweeping controversial comments here, and I know that there are exceptions to everything I have said, but I am compelled to make a point. That is, none of our human maladies and tendencies to do harm to each other will change until we give our attention to the core of these problems and begin making systemic changes that will in turn produce changes in the ways our new generations will develop into adults. It will undoubtedly take several generations to start seeing the benefits of this work, but isn’t that better than never seeing any change in humans for the better, and living from one generation to the next constantly trying to curtail our harm of each other by trying to catch and punish individual perpetrators? The complete ineffectiveness of the DEA over the last 50 years in their attempts to reduce the abuse of drugs by our society serves as a model of our failures to reduce or eliminate human abuse of ourselves and each other by waiting until broken people do harm.
Can you find any logical flaw in this cartoon?
What if it said:
There would probably be at least one vote in favor…. And maybe more!