Friday Flashback: Living Outside Ourselves

entrance to Belize rainforest

From February 2004:

Our sensory exploration and learning is interrupted, from a very young age, for abstract lessons of language. We are taught definitions, that what a thing is, is its word — kitten, puppy, Mommy. Bizarre learning that has no resonance in the three million years of instinctive knowledge wired into our DNA. And then, immediately, we are taught, and taught and taught what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’, what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, what is ‘rational’ and ‘irrational’. And we are judged on how our behaviour reflects and reinforces that terrible learning — on our conformity. For the rest of our lives we will be taught, and told, what to do, how to do it, and how to behave, learning that is utterly abstract and disconnected from who we are (or were). We will, as we have been taught and told, fill our lives with arduous duties, with fearsome consequences if we ‘fail’ (poverty, being labeled and shunned as a ‘failure’, or the shame and terror of nothaving enough). And finally, we become that abstract other that is our strange learnings and behaviours. We learn to live outside our real selves.

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