The Weakness We fear – Part 2

Intelligent is as intelligent thinks: Experts tell us that a genuine sign of intelligence is not the type of qualification that is framed on our wall, but knowing that we are 100% absolutely in tune with each of the aspects of our life.

A second-best sign is knowing that we are doing our very best to manage ourselves and our loved ones with the least amount of anger, envy, resentment, fear, guilt and regret within and outside of us. That type of intelligence presumes the belief that our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but by the actions and inactions we choose moment after moment which tend to be dictated by our emotions. Again, and again, we are told that one of the best choices we can make on a daily basis is to fuel the emotion of gratitude actively.

Oh, not that G-word: Once tainted by the heavy brush of religion, today, we know that gratitude is relevant to the health of our heart, mind and body. That is because the brain activity linked to the emotion it generates registers in the medial prefrontal cortex, the neural pathways associated with social bonding and stress relief.

Imagine being without these! What to be grateful for when we feel that our life is humdrum boring or worse, coming apart?  The ability to breathe freely is certainly something to be grateful for unless, of course, one would truly prefer to be dead. The fact that we have a job to go to or a car to drive instead of having to take the bus or a taxi or worse, having to walk, are other simple things to be genuinely grateful for.

Imagine losing either! That there is someone dear on whom we can rely when there is such a person in our inner circle or that we have enough money to pay our rent or mortgage and so on are certainly worse adding to the Gratitude checklist along with, perhaps, even better circumstances.

Here comes the bad news: Though our brain is considerably larger than that of the most distant earth-dwellers, Homo habilis, dating back some 2 million years ago, neuroscience tells us that incremental brain shrinkage has been occurring over the past 10.000 years.

That aside, today as in the era of Homo sapiens, whenever we, humans, allow the low end of our ego to hack our free will, we give in to emotions before reason which leaves no space in our brain for emotional coherence – let alone gratitude.

Despite the degree of control we might have in our field of expertise, be that in the home, the workplace or sports fields when it comes to the fear of missing out, we manage no better than our ancestors before us and the Millennials after us, Baby Boomers.

Moreover, whether our possessions are of a material or emotional nature, we are still paranoid about losing any of them – either at the hand of Nature or as a result of the cunning, callousness or stupidity of other humans.

We still thrash around erratically when feeling emotionally or physically threatened. We still let confidence before realism drive us, and we try with all our ego-might to protect ourselves from any evidence that would undermine our mind games. We are still doing our best to escape from occupations and careers we did not actually want and from goals we have not truly set for ourselves.

Today, as beyond the fog of forgotten times, raring to activate the mating process, our brain system still stubbornly focuses our energy on certain individuals, as brains did some 3 million years ago, in the era of the great apes.

Back then, procreation was essential to the survival of the species but, since the world population has been exploding to the tune of some 70 million annually, clearly, the survival of our civilisation is not under threat.

Bottom line: Unlike the CoreMC 2s, the world’s most powerful PCs kitted up with amazing dual Xeon multicore processors, we, the most advanced descendants of Homo sapiens-sapiens are still fired up by the antiquated fight-flight neural program that is continuously running in the background of our brain.

So, built-in obsolescence being what it is and in the absence of any updates and upgrades, no wonder we, humans of the 21st century, perpetrate so much random craziness wherever we are!

Spoiler alert: Sigmund Freud would have turned 161 this year. Though his theory of female penis-envy cannot be taken literally, at least not today, women worldwide definitely envy the entitlement and the privileges accorded to those born with a penis.

Presumably, even Dalit men from the lowest caste in India have privileges they refuse their women. As a result, survivors of sexism aided by the media worldwide have been chanting and clamouring that the way to further female empowerment is to allow girls and women the same privileges as those allowed boys and men – not merely guaranteeing them equal pay and equal respect. They want the freedom to act as males do in all aspects of their lives.

Though women remain attached to the self-inflicted, double handicap of figure-revealing outfits and high heels, taken to the limit, these sought-after privileges include male-like debauchery and callousness.

Equal in ‘badass-ness’: So, while there is a concern that our culture has already become too permissive, hordes of women of all ages seeking elusive ‘equality’ and empowerment by acting up are about to equal, perhaps even ‘better’, hordes of men of all ages.

At the moment, it is accepted that roughly 90% of the violence committed in our towns and suburbs are perpetrated by men of all ages.Knowing that low levels of self-control are associated with criminal activity, would it be that surprising to see the percentage of female-led, unprovoked violence escalate over the next ten years?

As it is, in sororities and the workplace as on the sports fields, even within friendship groups, women are already well-experienced at acting callously towards other women, treating them as they assume a man in their position would treat them.

Interestingly, on the home front, some men have begun aligning their behaviour with alternative aspects of their inner selves by swapping roles with their female partners and getting more involved in the business of caring for their children and running the household.

Argh! Until more research is published on the theory of crime, maybe this ebb and flow of needs and behaviours can be attributed to hormonal shifts.

Oh, please! Be my leader! For now, from political and workplace coercion to street violence, regardless of his age, Man is quick to rally with other men to target any one, lone individual, male or female – also regardless of their age.

In schools, in the workplace, in teams, in the political arenas, at religious gatherings and in the streets of our towns, Man of all ages is often eager to take orders from sycophantic, borderline psychopathic leaders.

Gang leaders, drug traffickers, dictators, militant clergymen, ‘strong men’ tending to illegal business, hazers in fraternities and the army, and bullies that strike at recess and after school – for Man there exists a plethora of ‘mind leaders’ always willing to take him under their wing.

A pack mentality of loyalty and devotion to the group links subservient Omega Man to the Alpha leader of choosing.

When observing a pack of wolves, one can guess the animals’ rank by looking at how he stands and postures. Should a dominant wolf approach a more submissive one, the latter will flatten his ears, pull his tail between his legs or roll over to show his underbelly- as most pet dogs do to demonstrate subservience. When greeting a more dominant member, the lower-ranked animal will probably lick the other’s muzzle in a bid to ingratiate himself.

Now, wouldn’t a superimposition of these behaviours over those displayed within any male group dynamics be a perfect match?

Good men are welcome, anytime: Interestingly, at one’s own risk, some women do find themselves attracted to a charismatic ‘bad boy’ figure for casual sex. However, when scouting around for a long-term relationship, most women prefer taking their chances with a man they perceive as kind-spirited and generous – whether he is attractive or not.

Let’s not forget that Man, as a male hero with a big, altruistic heart does exist. Of course, he does, but only when he knows how to keep his personality balanced. When angry and under stress, his level of testosterone and his level of cortisol produced by adrenal glands remain correctly calibrated.

Many a great film has featured male characters of all ages as kind-hearted and selfless persons.

As an aside, only a woman such as Agatha Christie who sold some 4 billion books, could have thought to cast such a grey character as her Hercule Poirot, physically the antithesis of a male hero, as an incorruptible, super sleuth who always has the last word on the side of justice.

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The Stepping Stones Series

Rethinking Thinking

Volumes 1 & 2 of the Stepping Stones to the Top of the World Series.

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