Archive for June, 2015

Teaching Kids about the Domination Culture

A Harvard study of 10,000 middle and high-school age youth across all income levels and ethnic backgrounds between 2013 and 2014 discovered that children are taught to value personal success and happiness over caring.

Of those studied, 75% said they valued personal success over being kind.  More telling is that  80% said their parents emphasized personal success over being kind and over happiness.  The prevalent rhetoric which bemoans bullying, disrespect and unkind behavior is obviously not convincing our children, who are learning largely selfish notions of success.

The Harvard study seems to treat success caring and happiness as mutually exclusive values as it asks young people to rank them.  Success and caring are not necessarily separate, but statistics back up the finding that success is valued at the expense of caring.

Half of high school students admit to cheating on a test and nearly 75% admit to copying someone else’s homework (Josephson Institute, 2012). Nearly 30% of middle and high school students reported being bullied during the 2010-2011 school year (NCES, 2013). In that same year, over half of girls in grades 7-12 reported at least one episode of sexual harassment at school (Hill & Kearl, 2011).

These values stress children, encourage them to harm each other psychologically and promote a depressing and dysfunctional world view in which most people cannot win.  The predominance of evidence actually indicates that our survival depends on collaboration and caring, (See The Bond, by Lynne McTaggart) but without believing and living it, parents cannot promote the value of civility to their children.

Dr. Ruth Defends her Stop Bullying and Anti Abuse Thesis

My recent life experience leads me to consider that I am completing an unofficial PhD in bullying and pobabswer plays.  Like any other PhD candidate, I am a bit weary of the topic, so have found it difficult to blog on it of late.  Like other PhD candidates, I am also grappling with some of the more complicated aspects of the subject in an attempt to learn them.

Where most PhD candidates must defend their thesis in a formal way, I have had to refine my defense repeatedly in impromptu challenges from the power hungry or the insensitive in my environment.

There have been one-up interactions with co workers.  “I can help you run that report” says another manager in a way that suggests I am too old to grapple with point and click technology.  Later when I call
in his help to set a filter on the report, I discover he knows less about it than I do.

I have faced sabotage by colleagues:  “I forgot to tell you we changed the location of the event,” the event being one I need to publicize.  This is from a colleague who is not forgetful and who remembered to tell everyone else involved.

I have held my ground in combative conversations with disordered personalities, such as a lunch date who yelled at me for asking a question then scolded me for an unrealistic point of view then told me I’m her best friend.

I have observed extreme bad manners such as the committee member who rolls her eyes dismissively as others express their opinions.

As a person with an odd personality (INFJ shared with only 2% of the population,) and its different way of perceiving and processing, it is easy for me to be the outsider in any group and while I’m not especially controversial, I do consider and question things others take for granted.  I realize that all of us who are different can be annoying to others.  But as Steve Martin used to say, “Well, excuuuuse ME!”

However irritating my experiences, they have helped me distill my thesis into its most important essence.  Here is the shared power thesis:

As humans, we have a need for belonging so intense that not belonging can kill us as infants.  A sense of belonging in adults is one of the most important indicators for health, far outweighing other lifestyle factors such as tobacco use.

Experiments in which subjects were caused to feel like outsiders resulted in social pain in those subjects, and their resulting brain activity is the same as the brain activity associated with physical pain.

Therefore, it is just plain unkind to be unkind.  If you lack empathy, you won’t get this point, so just read on.  There’s more.

Humans are social animals and evidence indicates that we fare better as a group when we collaborate than we do when we compete.  Our brains function best when we feel cared about.  The individual who feels like an outsider experiences pain and stress, which detract from productivity.

Open mindedness, inclusion, tolerance and respect are simply efficient.  They may be a little less comfortable, but they get bottom line results.

OK.  What’s your thesis?  Let’s hear your defense for exclusion, power plays and disrespect?