Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Unbearable Cost of Maintaining Taboos

Good day, everyone. It's been quite some time since I've written in this forum, and for that I apologize. I have had thoughts but I did not well keep them. I have been busy with many things but, tonight, I find that there are some things which move me that I must write.

The things that I will attempt to write upon in the coming hours, days, or weeks, follow:
1) taboos, and how they perpetuate destructive behavior;
2) whether or not to support a religious-appearing body that seeks financial contributions;
3) meditation and its potential to aid in children to mitigate or avoid the tendency toward adolescent rebellion and poor behavior.

First, taboos. What is a taboo? The word taboo refers to something excluded from use or mention. This can include all sorts of things: cannibalism; recreational drug use; sex; the failure of the FDA to regulate dangerous drugs resulting in countless of unnecessary deaths; the disregard of our national well-being by those we call our public servants; or, for an extremely minor example, even something such as having your elbows on the table at a meal.

If you are completely satisfied with every aspect of your life, of those people around you, and all you know of in your world, you can stop reading now. Why waste your time on seeking improvement if all is well and nothing can be made better?

If you are not satisfied, then let us look at why. Taboos are things generally not spoken of and that can reflect, depending on their severity, issues that need to be addressed and, perhaps more importantly, that our youth may need to be taught about. The last of the examples may seem of little import, but who wants their 15-year-old daughter to get drunk or high on drugs and have sex with three men that she barely knows, without even being reasonably aware of what goes on; potentially exposing herself to life-threatening STDs such as AIDS or Hepatitis, in addition to the likelihood of getting pregnant and not knowing who the father is? Perhaps worse, who wants such a child of theirs to be consenting to it?

Addictions are another, private, example. If I were an alcoholic, I would have an addiction to alcohol. I would desire to drink it, and drink it in excess. I would keep going back to it despite it incurring destructive effects upon my health, well-being, or lifestyle. How would I perpetuate it? By denying that there was a problem. I would be making the idea of alcoholism a taboo for me. I wouldn't discuss alcoholism, mention it, and I would keep out of my mind any association with the idea. What is this, if not a taboo?

Those of us in the USA, who wants our nation to be $12 trillion in debt and increasing so much by the year that there is no way to ever climb out, which is what our public servants have been and continue to be condemning our nation to? Those of you in other nations, you might not have those specific numbers as the problem but, at least in most places, the problem is still there. This can only lead to insolvency, as in the hyperinflation of Zimbabwe. Is that what we want for ourselves, for our children?

The reason that these problems happen, that we see them from day to day, is because of taboos. It is the same reason that we have gone to wars on foreign soil when popular opinion is not supportive, sometimes when the popular opinion is clearly in disagreement. It is why when someone in authority, a politician on TV or a preacher in a pulpit, says something that we disagree with, something that we, in our hearts, find important, we stifle our opinions. It would be a taboo to disagree with our leaders, and others might condemn us for that - we fear this, so we accept the bondage of the less righteous and honorable path.

It is why, historically, we so easily accepted the official lines for events leading to the USA's entry into World War I and II, lies about the RMS Lusitania and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (not that these events did not happen - for they did - but the lies were that we had no fault in them, that we did not encourage these tragedies).

It is part of why when our leaders say 'let's give $XXX billion to ____' (fill in the blank; over the past year, there's been no shortage of examples), we feel disgust, perhaps say little, and ultimately do nothing.

We exhibit desperation for approval in our divided society and have resigned ourselves to the idea that this is an acceptable and reasonable way to live our lives. It is why we, for so long, remain in denial about these and so many other lies. Meanwhile, all spins out of control.

Our children, what of them? Some decide that certain things we should not discuss with them, so as to prevent them from being exposed to those things. We do not find God to be very much in agreement with this, though. In the garden in Eden, God warns of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, that it leads to death; out of doubt for God's honesty and out of our own curiosity, we take and eat, and gorge ourselves on death. God tells us what will happen, because he wants us to be able to see the problems before we get to them, so that we may never have to suffer them.

We seem to disagree with that idea. We think that we can shelter our children from the realities of sin and deception and immorality and death; despite the fact that our societies, our world, is practically submerged in this. Why do we so often not warn them? I suspect it is similar to our response in the garden - we're ashamed, so we hide in our shame. We went down some paths that we aren't proud of, so we hide these things, rather than revealing our experiences to our children. We don't protect our children this way, we attempt to protect ourselves at their expense.

Similarly, we're ashamed that we don't have the answers for dealing with problems in our neighborhoods, our cities, our nations. Out of shame, we hide. What we should be doing is seeking out the better way, finding the answers, and making sure that something is done - and not just some thing, but the RIGHT thing.

We become what we focus our attention on. If we focus our attention on shame and protect it, we will become shameful and remain ashamed. And I say that it is at least in part for this cause that we fear death, that we feel that we 'do not make the cut', that if there is an afterlife that we are not good enough to have any good thing in the hereafter.

If we focus our attention on what is right and good and pure, on the ideal, and protect that, we will become more like this; we will not be ashamed any longer, and our children will learn this from us rather than shame. Then and only then can we live with and leave behind something that we can be proud of.

Don't be ashamed to reveal our mistakes to your children, unless you would rather they make the same errors that you did. Santayana wrote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." As children begin with little of their own past, they must make all of the mistakes anew to learn from them if we fail to teach them of our pasts.

Don't be ashamed to make mistakes in the sight of others, for anyone who has succeeded at any thing knows that only through the failures encountered during practice, during attempts, has a person ever been prepared for any success. In this, failure can be a sign of progress, as long as you would learn and improve, and why should anyone be ashamed of improvement?

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