David Amerland
Might is right is not a sustainable policy


I have written, from a deeply personal perspective, about bullying before. In the more data-rich, neuroscience-backed world we live in now, it is worth revisiting not least because the subtext of bullying is the anathema of anyone who believes in freedom and free thought: that might, somehow, makes right.

It was sparked off by a recent study I came across that shows that men with greater upper body strength are more likely to favor politics that perpetuate inequality. The caveman mentality that leads to such an approach is understandable but not excusable. In a modern setting where complexity is the norm, we would expect adaptability to kick in and Darwin’s laws of “survival of the fittest” to kick in and start to favor those with complex game plans, broader points of view and collaborative and cooperative strategies.

I am not saying this is not happening (case in point our connection around this weekly column and the discussions it sparks off) but clearly the cavemen are not going away. And they shouldn’t. Progress, whether at a technological or psychosocial level has never been even and as the world around us speeds up its rate of change it demands of us more and more commitment in terms of time and personal development.

It used to be that staying with our family group until we were eighteen was “good enough” in terms of the skills and knowledge we needed to ensure our long term survival. Of all the other animals around us we were (and still are) in need of long nurture times to help us develop fully. That time of development, is no longer enough. We now, clearly, need more time to think and develop, grow and mature.

It takes effort. It takes energy. Above all (and this is the really critical part) it takes intention. It takes awareness to overcome the natural inertia that tells us we shouldn’t try that hard, why should we try when no one before us had to struggle as much just to get by? Why isn’t the world (conceivably, “our world”) an easier place to live in?

And that approach leads us down strange paths where we begin to entertain outlandish theories and are prepared to see problems are caused by the “other” which we must now resist so things can go back to being easy and straightforward.

Here’s a truth: we are complex systems living in even more complex systems. Nature affects us as much as nurture because we respond to our environment. To make matters even more complex, part of that environment is artificial because we create the social constructs we exist in. And within those social constructs we construct even more, some of which lead to direct, fresh problems that only we can solve.

I share what you feel right now. I want to wake up in the morning and not have to mentally gear up to face the day. I want to be able to step outside my door without having to force my brain to stay alert. I want things to be easy so I can feel free to do what I want to do.

Were things ever easy or am I (and maybe you too) harking back to a time of childhood where we felt everything was done for us and we had little to worry about? Are we, subconsciously, refusing to grow up because we know that it takes effort and energy to be an adult and responsibility does not end at the boundaries of our paid work?

The reluctance I sense in myself, sometimes, to always think about the right thing to do, not the most expedient and try to be responsible in the broader sense, not just for myself; is answer enough I suspect. Maybe.

Ultimately I can only answer on this, for myself. But the fact that many of our issues, despite a lot of investment in time and money have not been solved and we continue to accept others when we really shouldn’t, suggests that many of us perhaps face the same reluctance and give in to it.

I struggle with this. And I have made myself a promise: to always take the path of most resistance. To align my thoughts and actions. To work to achieve clarity in what I want to do because life has to have a greater purpose. That doesn’t make the struggle any easier. But it puts it in perspective and lets me know that when I find something difficult. When reaching out, speaking truth when a lie would do, when stepping in or interfering, when balancing on that tightrope between making a mistake and avoiding any kind of risk, I do it from a place that says “being human, comes with greater responsibility because we have greater power and enjoy greater privileges.”

Your coffee pot is full. I know. And you have sweets aplenty in the form of donuts and croissants, cookies and chocolate cake. All that remains is for me to say: Have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.

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