Part 4: "Your World". When Empires Crumble (4/1a)   Series Home

We don't have a homelessness problem. We don't have a drug addiction problem. We don't even have a problem with crime. Nobody wants to be homeless or an addict or a criminal, so there's no problem there. We don't even have a mental health problem. This is because we're looking at things the wrong way. Our brains - or, more accurately, our neocortex, the center of our higher-level thinking - are functioning just the way they are supposed to. And what they're supposed to do, during our first three years of life, is learn the two processess - what the model defines as your self-esteem and self-confidence - that enable us to survive. To function in life and be successful. In essence, to be happy and independent. They are doing that just fine, even in instances where a person has learning disabilities or autism or anxiety or depression or a personality disorder or schizophrenia or whatever other mental health issue you can name. That's because they are doing exactly what they learned to do. What we do have is a development problem, and until we come to terms with this fact, everything else we do to understand alter human behavior will be for naught.

In America, there is no parenting guideline. Think about that for a second. The act of rearing a human being from birth until adulthood is one of the most involved - 18 years at least usually - and complicated processes anyone undertakes and, for most of us, *the* most challenging. Yet, there is almost a completely hands-off role taken by our society. The institutions that do have a role related to this rearing are limited, as all they "try* to do is prevent [extreme] abuse (the legal system) or ensure that behavior facilitates what they want to do (education). In the latter case, their goal is mostly about academic learning. The emotional part - really, the more imporant part when it comes to being an adult - is limited to what helps them in class, not what we require of an adult. In fact, I'll even argue that there are many opposing objectives. After all, the child requiring attention, taking control and wanting to do things their way is derogated as having ADHD or being anti-social. In the business world, we celebrate them as being an "entrepreneur". Go figure.

You *can* say that there are plenty of guidelines when, in reality, the more there are, the less there are. That's because that complicates the process. After all, if you went through them all that you'd spend your entire life analyzing and wouldn't even finish, let alone actually having the time to implement one. Worst, even if you did, it's a book. Or a web site. Or a video. Where is all the feedback along the way by the expert telling you how you're doing? It is absent. Pretty much every other process - school, driving, sports, music - use mentors. As a parent, you usually only have your partner. And they may or may not be that involved. Hell, you may not have the time to manage the process if you require a second job, at which point you're now handing off much of your biggest responsibility as a parent to someone else, who, like you, has little clue as to what to do.

And it ain't getting better.

In the 1800's, we were largely an agrarian society. In many instances, there was a "village" raising the children. In the house alone, there were often large families; multi-generational with an assortment of kin. In the community everybody knew everyone else. It wasn't easy to get away with things. Raising the children included many voices. Not only did this naturally include inherited advice, but, more importantly, it homogenized the process. Extreme views were a lot less likely. After all, today, you can do whatever you want if it's just you and the kid. And if you only have a partner helping, who knows what any two people can come up with. In some instances, I'll even suggest that that alone is a big problem. A couple can reinforce some pretty weird stuff. But I digress.

The point is that today we have greatly limited child-rearing assistance and divided it up amongst those where they don't know how you want your child raised and, even if they did, would be unable to do so. That's because teachers and day-care workers have their hands tied - legally to a large extent - and are really limited, time and skill-wise, to customizing the attention they give a child anyway. The end result is that children often mature in a sanitized vacuum and the chances that this self-directed rearing is going to go well are what you'd expect when an adolescent is driving their maturation process. It's not pretty.

So what happens when they become an adult? The answer there is not attractive either. There are countless situations where poor behavior is ignored if not tolerated. The star performers - business, creative, political, even religious types - are allowed to behave however they want as long as some group is obtaining some value. In actuality, companies and organizations and institutions take advantage of poor behavior. That's because of an extremely ugly reality. A less emotionally mature person is more readily managed. You can appeal to their feelings, their base instincts, to get them to do what you want them to do. Buy your product or service, attend your show, vote for you or make a donation. It is far easier and more effective to emotionally manipulate someone if you have that option. In short, it's cheaper. After all, emotions don't require a lot of effort to obtain an action. Logic, facts, reality... it all can be thrown out the window. That's because our emotions are really strong influencers and they act with lightning speed. In many cases, they can "hijack" our brain and get us to do things that don't make sense at all. You've all seen this in action if you've ever perpetrated something outlandish act on your own.

That's why we - and that includes all mammals - developed the neocortex. It provided an advantage. At least it's supposed to act that way. It's literally designed to help us manage our emotions. We sense something - this person is in my face and invading my territory - which triggers our instincts to do something that is not in our best interest. This is a threatening move after all, but we know this person is a friend so there's no need to be alarmed. If it's someone we don't know, we might assess that this is a street person asking for a handout. While we're not going to give them a hug, we *shouldn't* give them a punch. We read their face. We look at their body language. Yes, our neocortex tells us - correctly, if we read things right - that this person is safe, perhaps socially awkward, and we can handle the situation, maybe back up a foot if they're too close. However, we know when we don't need to escalate the event. Flight or fight is inappropriate. That's if we get it right.

The point here is we're not getting it right. Often. We are being emotionally manipulated to buy products, be entertained by stars and elect officials who are not worthy of our support. We need to really look at what they are offering - and that includes the entire package from how they behave when we see them to what they're doing when we don't see them - rather than letting them use emotional smoke-and-mirrors to do what they want us to do. We're even being manipulated by friends and family, and it's not good in that case either. We need to learn to control our emotional impulses when they drive behavior - what we say and do, even what we don't say and do - because, when we don't, the outcome is likely to be undesirable. After all, our neocortex - the center of human rational and higher-level thinking - is being removed from a very important equation. Yes, our feelings should influence our behavior. But they definitely shouldn't be our behavior.

The reason we're in this predicament today is that we’re a fairly dishonest creature. Most all of us. And if you’re not willing to consider that you’ve just proven my point. Our emotions can mislead us. If we feel something and we stop there, then something's wrong. We're removing an extremely important filter. We need to be able to question that knee-jerk reaction. Challenge ourselves. And if we’re unwilling to do that then we can’t say anything about anyone else; what they say or do. If you don’t like the way they behave, then tough. That's because there’s either something off with you, something off with them, or you’re both off. And no matter which scenario we're talking about, if you’re unwilling to look at your thoughts and logic then you’re doing the same thing you claim they’re doing. Your dismissing the rights of someone else. Whether it’s a disagreement or downright abuse, we need to get down to the inaccuracies driving it all or the conflict is never going to end because we're not adhering to the golden rule. Start there and everything falls into place. Be accountable for your role, then you can look for others to be accountable too. Otherwise, it won't go anywhere. We'll negotiate forever and talk it to death until we're dead. I don’t know about you but I want to see something in my lifetime. That time can be now. If you’re ready for the truth, now you know how to get there. It’s only a 4Sight away.

In closing, if you need data supporting what I'm talking about you need to look no further than the daily news. It is rife with examples of fellow citizens using manipulation and getting away with behavior that we'd otherwise find unconscionable if it weren't for the fact that we're throwing logic and facts and reality out the window. And the reason is that we're letting them do it. So, be mindful. Think about that feeling, that decision. I have found that again and again if I question people who are behaving in an irrational manner - if I slow the process down and have them think through what they are doing versus trusting their gut or hunch - that they always come up with the preferred conclusion. And that conclusion is that we need to do what's best for the group. We need to help each other - everyone, without marginalzing or excluding - and the world around us. In the end, a $40 million dollar painting and a 100-foot yacht may make you feel good for a second or an hour. But after the emotional response fades you'll be left with the reality and the reasons that drive us to engage in this self-involved and illogical behavior that pervades our country today. And that reality needs to change or we're all going to be in a lot of trouble. The whole group of us.

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