Can past traditions be better than present ones?

All information should be free, especially to people like me who struggle, really struggle to find new information and interpret it and make people’s lives better.  But instead, people who write this highly structured non-fiction that is scientific research, get it published in difficult (if not impossible) to retrieve places.  Where authors might actually enjoy hearing from fairly enlightened readers such as I.

But some pieces of science are interpreted by university press offices who deliver them back to me.  Sometimes, the message is so strong that I am nevertheless impressed, and need tooooooooooooo tell my beloved followers.  Like an article I just read: “Modern Parenting may hinder brain development.”

As that kid in Peanuts says, “AAUUGGHH!” I had always believed that civilization progressed only forward. I became a history buff when I was a child largely because I believed a dictum (which was once attributed to Harry S. Truman; more recently, I think, to Winston Churchill and now, to George Santayana.)

“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” Technology is advancing — that is a certainty.  The machine on which I am pounding out this essay upon a typewriter like keyboard was near-incomprehensible to my mother of blessed memory.  She said I was the only person she knew who was “involved” with one, as if I were somehow having an affair with it. We can do things technically in medicine that are nearly as mysterious to me as the computer was to her.

I remember learning that Darwinian evolution was unlikely to take human beings much farther than they have come.  Our population is so large and so diverse, populations incorporate such vastly diverse recombinations of DNA that the boldest of spontaneous mutations would not be very likely to survive, let alone flourish. Darwin was a clergyperson, who believed that with social reinforcement of virtue, we can improve as a species.  I am proud to represent Dr. Chuck Wall’s KindnessUSA  and have founded a fledgling social network Kindnesspeople and I am trying to elevate my species with kindness.

And with all this, is was not until the little science summary on a science news feed that I truly realized how civilization could regress. “The child is father to the man.”  This dictum was a source of mental masturbation chosen as the theme for one of the last “writing samples” assigned by the college board. To a student of human psychology, it is a burning truth.  Although it seems to start younger than imagined, most people would agree that the experiences lived through in youth make people become the adults they are. The science reported is the data from a multidisciplinary symposium on child rearing at Notre Dame. Of course mother’s breast milk is always better for a child than formula.  I suppose in the middle ages they could substitute another breast, but it has long been acknowledged that nothing is as good as the “real thing.” Understandable — lots of treatises exist, but why the decline?  Should not this form of applied biochemistry have been prioritized? I’ve heard it said, “it takes a village to raise a child.”  But extended families don’t exist when folks are mobile and independent.  Even in my own family, I really only had one alternative caretaker in childhood. I am very frustrated at society these days. Would I be less so if I had lived with and had closer relationships with more alternative caretakers?  Mother and Grandmother were “it.” I quickly grew away from them, even became somewhat of a mystery to them both. How can we maximize the human being?  Me, I might have to look back more, seeing, in a very big picture, what has made humans flourish most.  In a science of illness, medicine, can we overcome assessing humans by marking their deficits, and work instead on reaching higher? This symposium was not just history, but history with understanding.

Humans can do much better than they have.  I do not feel this is as simple as hopeful thoughts of you giving way to nostalgia or conservatism.  It is more like a chauvinism for the human race. Our changes are not all for the better. We need to work more on rising higher.  On evolving morally and ethically, as well as technologically.

Filed under Family, News, Society by on #

Leave a Comment

Fields marked by an asterisk (*) are required.