Holli Deal Bragg wrote on 3/24 that politics can bring out the worst, and I agree. However, her conclusion, “politics are evil.” is like saying that air is evil. We cannot live without air. Air with different levels of thermal energy moves, and when it gets too much energy it becomes dangerous, as in a hurricane. Politics is as common to us humans as air. Politics becomes dangerous when we put too much energy into it. Therefore, politics is not evil in itself.
Why do we sometimes put too much energy into politics such that we become absolute in certain political positions and treat others as enemy when they do not agree. From many clues the following information and hypothesis provides an answer.
If we accept that everything we humans think, feel, believe and do (including politics) comes from the 100 billion neurons and one-quadrillion synaptic circuits of our brains, then why does our brain so readily label another as “enemy”?
Neuroscientists Metzhoff, Kuhl, Freeman, Elliott clearly say that the fuel for the brain to grow the 1 quadrillion plus synaptic circuits connecting up the unorganized 100 billion neurons we are born with so that by the age of 3 we have memory and a sense self and self-awareness, comes from the social connection to others through which positive emotional energy fuels the brain’s development and growth and function.
Orphans emotionally and socially abandoned have significant developmental/functional problems because their brains did not develop biologically – smaller brains because of fewer neuronal-synaptic circuits. If enough of those neuronal-synaptic circuits die, the baby-child can die. Having social/emotional nurture for our brains is a life/death issue. As babies/children we need mother/father to lovingly receive us so that we feel lovingly received and to give us positive emotional input enhancing self-esteem. When mother/father or substitutes neglect or abuse, the brain so desperately dependent upon this fuel to live can readily conclude that they are the enemy, as in the Menendez brothers killing their parents. When does a person stop needing the positive emotional input from the social connection to others? Never.
When our brains are fueled and growing toward maturity/fulfillment we feel hopeful, energized, alive, and motivated to do what promotes the growth. When the brain is starved of the fuel of positive emotional input enhancing self-esteem it needs, it is on the way toward dieing, and we feel hopeless, lethargic, angry. Our brain as the cognition organ perceives and concludes what will bring the fuel to assist it to grow to fulfillment.
In her book, “A Mind of its Own,” Cordelia Fine and neuroscientist Eric Kandel observe that the brain has an amazing ability to deceive itself. In this life/death struggle to reach fulfillment, the brain has perceptions about what the brain needs to reach that goal and not die and makes conclusions (usually erroneous) about what must absolutely happen for the brain to receive what it needs, as in certain political directions.
When someone appears to hinder that direction, the brain can readily label him/her “enemy“. Sometimes the brain concludes that it itself is the enemy and suicide can result. More often the brain transfers its frustration/anger about reaching its fulfillment onto substitute enemies. Of course, we generally accept that it is justifiable to defend oneself against the death threat from someone, even killing him/her, as in Scott Peterson killing his wife Lacy instead of his mother. Human history is punctuated with human sacrifices/substitutes. Hitler sacrificed millions of Jewish people as scapegoats. The deception is that if the enemy were removed, fulfillment would come, as in if enough infidels are killed the rule of paradise will come to the world, or if we get rid of those who disagree politically with us, the world will change toward everything being OK – helping the brain reach fulfillment.
How readily our brains can become our worst enemy. As Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and it is us.” We do not need to get rid of an enemy, out-balance-brains need substitute mothering, fathering, sistering, brothering. The hunger to meet this need drives the brain to sift through the past to conserve positive emotional experiences--real or imagined--so that the past becomes “the good old days.”
For our human species to survive it means surviving individually and socially, which involves political decisions about guides, rules, and laws to promote a social matrix nurturing healthy individuals and to protect us from out-of-balance brains which enter criminal activity.
What our brains need to grow toward genetically determined fulfillment is the fuel of social connection to others in which our brains feel lovingly received and receive positive emotional input enhancing self-esteem.
When our brains are adequately fueled, brain functions of cognition, emotion and motivation come into an inner harmony-balance resulting in brains thriving, not threatened with dieing, and we make decisions in our and others best interests. In such a state of inner brain harmony, the brain becomes its own friend, and everybody else can be a friend. It only needs to feel lovingly received and receive positive emotional input enhancing self esteem.