Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Power Problem

Why is it considered wrong for most countries to have nuclear weapons? The simple answer is that nuclear weapons are too big a power for these countries to handle....

I was thinking of the power given to parents in raising their children. This power should not be underestimated. By giving two people almost complete control over the life of a child (or any number of children they deem appropriate), parents are, to a great extent, given control over the way the next generation thinks and acts. This would not be a problem if we assume that parents teach children human values and morals, the basics of how to tell right from wrong, logic and reasoning, and then allow them to explore the richness of the world around them with a free mind. However, if we go to the other extreme, we find that parents may transfer their full set of memes to their children without any sort of filtering, adjustment, or adaptation. With religious fundamentalists or extremists as well as some other cases, children are brought up in an environment that can cripple their thinking process or social activity irreversibly.

"Michael Shermer, in How We Believe: The Search for God in an Age of Science, describes a large survey of randomly chosen Americans that he and his colleague Frank Sulloway carried out. Among their many interesting results was the discovery that religiosity is indeed negatively correlated with education (more highly educated people are less likely to be religious). Religiosity is also negatively correlated with interest in science and (strongly) with political liberalism. None of this is surprising, nor is the fact that there is a positive correlation between religiosity and parents' religiosity. Sociologists studying British children have found that only about one in twelve break away from their parents' religious beliefs."

Richard Dawkins
The God Delusion

After reading the above statistics, especially the last part, one can't help but wonder: How free are we?

In my attempt to find possible solutions for this problem, I was reminded of a post by Devil's Mind about emotional rape that I thought was relevant to the subject. As with every problem, the first step to solving it is realizing that there's a problem to begin with. Psychological damage cannot be assessed as easily as physical damage, it becomes increasingly more difficult to undo as time goes by, and worst of all, the victim is generally unaware of the damage in the cases of imposing social or religious values.

There are probably hundreds of thousands of parents who realize that the world moves forward very quickly and that to bring their children up properly they need to expect change and accept it, be open-minded, and flexible. These present a partial solution to the problem. But what about the tens of millions of parents who don't follow the same course, who think they own their children and have the right to impose whatever ideology they see fit on them?

4 comments:

Qwaider قويدر said...

Reflecting on the first paragraph ...
Too much to handle...

Maybe because they know something we don't.... Many of the so called countries, are nothing but a facade to nothing! Pictorial regimes that .... will not be able to handle it

Rania said...

"How free are we?" A tormenting question. How much of the environemntal factors can one escape? To what extent do we choose who we are, what we think, want and believe?

It's frightening to think of how much of one's personality the parents are responsible for shaping. It's a power so intoxicating it's hard not to abuse. Every word said or unsaid, every detail, every choice made in the formative years makes a difference in the "product" that you will become... how easy is it to be able to look at yourself later on and start "choosing" who you are and rejecting what you don't want to be? To really examine what has been pushed inside your head and push away what doesn't make sense?

It's much easier to teach someone to be like you than equip them with the skills to choose and be their own person. "Good leaders make followers. Great leaders make other leaders.

Q said...

"how easy is it to be able to look at yourself later on and start "choosing" who you are and rejecting what you don't want to be?"....It's not easy at all. But the result is being a person who lives by what they believe. A person with no contradictions in their life. I personally think it's a goal better than any other to seek.

Queenie said...

Good for people to know.