April, 2006
Vol. 5, Number 4
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This Month's Article

Human Programming and Conflict: Part I — Instincts, Imprints, and Filters

…the poor duckling, who…looked so ugly, was bitten and pushed and made fun of, not only by the ducks, but by all the poultry….the poor little thing did not know where to go, and was quite miserable because he was so ugly and laughed at by the whole farmyard. So it went on from day to day till it got worse and worse. The poor duckling was driven about by every one; even his brothers and sisters were unkind to him, and would say, "Ah, you ugly creature, I wish the cat would get you," and his mother said she wished he had never been born. The ducks pecked him, the chickens beat him, and the girl who fed the poultry kicked him with her feet. So at last he ran away….

The Ugly Duckling, by Hans Christian Andersen

In the twenty-first century, after having survived millennia of natural and human disasters that threatened survival and caused so much suffering, it seems that humans are still largely governed by the same false biological instincts as in the story, “The Ugly Duckling.” We want to destroy what is different from us. Human conflict and environmental destruction show a basic lack of a consciousness that understands the underlying unity and interdependence of all beings.

The most disturbing manifestation of human conflict is the suicide bomber. Not because its victims are many, but because the killer is also a victim — a victim of his or her act and a victim of the forces that produced the act. Am I alone in feeling that the female suicide bomber is even more horrible and disturbing? I find it hard to reconcile the giver and nourisher of life with an image of such an intimate and personal taking of life. [1]

Why are we not equally horrified by a cruise missile that destroys a whole neighborhood killing children along with their mothers, fathers and grandparents? Perhaps because the act is so impersonal, so scientific, so easily rationalized by political words; perhaps because the killer is not also a victim of the act, so that the killing seems more “natural;” perhaps because the intellectual distance makes it more righteous, and we, in whose name it is done, less personally responsible.

Human genome research tells us that we are 99.99 percent the same genetically. Why are humans still committing suicide on a global scale for the sake of .01 percent, or equally absurd, because of cultural and religious differences? If anything, the genome research is proving religious claims that “we are all children of God.”  We are even genetically related to insects and flowers. When enlightened thinkers tell us to be harmless, they are telling us that taking life is suicide.

Somewhere deep in our subconscious, printed on our shared genetic code, buried under layers of the clothing we call culture, race, and identity, is an instinct that is opposed to the notion of self-destruction. If that instinct didn’t exist, how could one explain the desire to survive even in horrible conditions? Throughout all of human history, suicide remains an aberration — a result of obsession, delusion, insanity. [2]

The universal genetic instinct for self-preservation has resulted in written codes and unwritten taboos that condemn killing one self and others. So how come there are still wars, riots, ethnic cleansing, and man-made destruction of our life-raft earth? It’s because of the layers of clothing that act as filters, coloring and distorting our perceptions and actions. We respond to our environment and to others based on these filters, and upon the programmed responses that have been imprinted upon us either unconsciously or by design.

If the reality is that humans share the same core instincts and the same needs, why is it that we permit life to be governed by our filters and imprints? Taken as a whole, the filters and imprints of race, religion, ethnicity, nationalism, desires, fears and prejudice cover the shared essence of our human nature. Humans must resist the false behavior forced upon us by the myth-makers who create unnecessary conflicts. They take away our self-determination and happiness and threaten our survival. Like the Ugly Duckling, we must realize that hidden within us is a beauty, which is a potential we share with all human beings.

Next month: What constitutes the filters and imprinting shaping current events? How may humanity change direction so that we resolve our conflicts and shape a healthy and peaceful future?



[1] Torture, a vile and repugnant act, is in a different category than human conflict; it is based on cruelty, on the desire for power over another, and on the desire to humiliate. return

[2] Acts of selflessness to help others, which may result in personal harm and even death, belong to that category of unpremeditated sacrifice produced by one who has sublimated animal instincts, and who acts from the instinct that recognizes one-self in others. We call them “heroes.” Motive is the key: preserving life versus taking life; a consciousness of unity versus a consciousness of separateness; an act of love versus an act of hate; spontaneous sacrifice versus premeditated self-destruction. return

© 2006 Richard Sidy

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Related Articles:

Hope for the Future
Series on Leadership
Series on Global Consciousness
World Peace in Less Than a Month?
Can Idealism Solve Problems?

I Know I'm Not Alone — the wisdom of Machael Franti

Related Poems:

Making Friends
Take Heart
March Madness


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Archives 2005
Volumn 4
January: "Standing up for Humanity"
February: "The Wake of Disaster" – a poem
March: "Unity in Diversity
April: "Life is Calling"
May: "Entertainment" – a poem
June: "Thought and Imagination" part 1
July: "Thought and Imagination" part 2
August: "Imagination and Healing"
September: "Malice or Neglect? – Lessons of Katrina"
October: "Protecting Children"
November: "Intelligent Design or Evolution?"
December: "Building with one hand, destroying with the other"
Archives 2006
Volumn 5

January: "Conflict, Harmony, and Integrity"
February: "Satyagraha or Soul-force and Political Change"
March: "I Know I'm Not Alone - Wisdom of Michael Franti"
April: "Human Programming and Conflict Part I"
May: "Human Programming and Conflict Part II"
June: "Soccer Diplomacy"
July: "Sustainable Development is Nature's Way
August: "Parallel Universes"
September: "The News is not New"
October: "Legalizing Torture"
November: "Living Without an Enemy"
December: "Fast Food is really Slow Food"

Archives 2007
Volumn 6

January: "State of Fear"
February: Criminal Justice - "The Powerful Over the Weak"
March: "Culture Shock: The Good Life and Survival"
April: "March Madness"
May: "No Child Left Behind" Leaves Many Teachers Behind
June: "Personal Ecology"
July: Criminal Justice - "The Ethic of Custodianship"
August: "Exploring the Mind - part 1"
September: "Exploring the Mind - part 2: The Poetic Mind
October: "How Much Pain Can We Stand?"
November: "When Languages Disappear"
December: "Is it Enough to be Tolerant?"

Archives 2008
Volumn 7

January: "Beyond Ideology: Politics of the Future "
February: "Beyond the Bush Years"
March: "The Imaginary Economy - Part I
April: "The Imaginary Economy - Part II
May: Questions from Prison
June: "iGods and Connectivity"
July: "Energy Independence"
August: "Tribalism and the 2008 Elections
September: "Guilt, Shame and U.S. Justice"
October: "Have We Been Willing Slaves?"
November: "Are We Ready for the Future?"
December: "Are we done learning from pain?"

Archives 2009
Volumn 8

January: "Awakening"
February: "When Sacrifice is no Sacrifice"
March: "The Good New Days"
April: "The Power of Metaphor"
May: "The Conflict of Mythologies"
June: "The Time is Right"
July: "The New Anarchy"
August: "The Art of Living"
September: "Outrage"
October: "Are Women Becoming More Unhappy?

November: "Effect of the manufacturing culture on the American Psyche"
December: Who are the Real Game Changers?

Archives 2010
Volumn 9

January: The Music of Place
February: Earthquakes and Other Awakenings
March: Sense of Place, Sense of Self, Sense of Humanity
April: Why Do People Serve?
May: Decentralizing Food and Energy
June: Beyond Reading and Writing — Ecological literacy
July: Organization or Organism?
August: Fear and Cynicism = “Inter-fear-ance”
September: Are we afraid of our "Better Angels?"
October: Choosing Our Battles
November: Meeting the Need
December: A Living Canvas

Archives 2002: Vol. 1, Numbers 1-12
Read past articles including:
Hope for the Future
Six Part Series on Science and Religion
First Three Parts of the Series on Leadership
Archives 2003: Vol. 2, Numbers 1-12
Read past articles including:
Series on Leadership continued
Avoiding Dictatorship in a Free Society

Art and Politics
Living the Good Life

Teaching Teens
World Peace in Less Than a Month?
Archives 2004: Vol. 3, Numbers 1-12
Read past articles including:
Seven Part Series on Global Consciousness
Is "Liberal" a Dirty Word?
Can Idealism Solve Problems?
Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All
Poetry Diplomacy Science and Religion  Teen Help
Archives 2002 Archives 2003 Archives 2004
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