Can we stand together and overcome adversity and genetics?

Thursday, September 10, 2020

I would like to refer to the excellent article by Barbara Karst in the Outlook September 3rd edition. I take exception to one statement.

“Racism is not an inherent attitude. It has to be taught by someone - parents, grandparents, and others who are racist/ bigoted.” This statement brings into play the continuing discussion; does man learn through nurture or nature? Do we only learn from the experiences encountered from the time of conception on, or is there residual knowledge passed on to us via genetics?

I would like to refer you to the works of Dr. E. O. Wilson, major proponent of sociobiology, Robert Ardrey and his four book series, The Nature of Man, and to the work of Dr Raymond Dart after his 1924 discovery of the Australopithecus Africanus. Their assertion is we learn by both nurture AND nature. Dr. Dart’s bold, blunt and controversial statement is both man and animals retain knowledge through instinct. The strongest instinct being the instinct to survive.

There are many facets to the act of survival. Currently most common is the discussion of the herd instinct, or the social need for community. This need for community is so strong, we use the deprivation of community as a form of punishment. We imprison, or remove from society our criminals. Solitary confinement is not only considered a punishment but has proven to be a form of torture. Religions shun or excommunicate controversial individuals. We instinctually repel or fear that which is new or not understood for it may threaten our survival.

To be succinct, we are all bigots. Strength in numbers, or the herd can provide security. We look alike. We talk alike. We think alike. I will be safe. I will survive and in times of stress, we revert to that which we presume will again protect us.

Ironically, the study of genetics has shown us the necessity for diversity. We have learned the inbreeding of animals and humans can cause numerous physical and mental deficiencies. We can also inbreed our society intellectually. The art of learning is augmented through the nurturing of our young and the continued exploration of creation throughout our lives.

In this time of social and economic uncertainty, will we revert to the herd? Retreat to our embattlements and separate into isolated communities fearful of the unknown? Or do we have the courage and strength of character to stand together in an ever expanding herd and face the unknown? Strength of numbers, nature, expansion of knowledge, nurture, they can work together.

Jim Tikalsky of Laurel

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