2. Nurture’s role: Instinct and tradition are often mutually supportive of resentment and hate. When they are not mutually supportive, I recommend directing our attention to nurture more than nature, because we are interpretive creatures. The meanings we assign through symbols to interpret the physical information our senses provide are so powerful that they often override our physical signaling system. The cortical portion of our human brain has become the capital where our intentional action decisions are made. All native languages bias us to process information into either/or opposing categories. This two-category dichotomous thinking is the primary cause of bigotry, prejudice, destructive confrontation, and war.
During our early years, we are required to process information into two categories. Our cerebral cortex is physically undeveloped and unequipped to think with reason and wisdom. Until about the age of puberty, our brain has an extraordinary ability to mimic our role models. The authority of instinct and tradition is indelibly inscribed into our minds; we are like putty in the hands of our nurturers. These earliest formative years have been called “the magic years.” Things just happen. Fate assigns us nurturers who teach us the “correct” assumptions about the world. Our nurturers teach us their way; their way becomes our way. We learn what is right, good, and O.K. We are given the behavior rules of our culture. We acquire our name, our native language, and we are assigned a flag, a religion, and one or more local “tribes” to which we owe our allegiance. Two-category thinking pits tribes against each other -- the political right against the political left, the religious enlightened versus the religious evil, and thehaves versus the have nots. It assigns value by color, gender, ethnic affiliation, class, and even by geographic location. What is not “our” way automatically falls into the wrong, bad or evil, not O.K.other category.
With repetition, this dichotomous understanding of the world becomes habit. Unless we actively modify our either/or way of thinking, life remains a competition between sides. Each tribe is passionate to win, to dominate those who are not a member of their own tribe. Win/lose confrontations are the predictable outcomes of two-category thinking. Either/or processing of information will sustain conflict and wars until we teach ourselves a newer way of both...and thinking that recognizes we each have both positives and negatives.
Recall the ditty:
There is so much bad in the best of us,
And so much good in the worst of us,
That it ill behooves any of us,
To put down the rest of us.