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Mindset and Choice
Mindset and Choice
The mind is such a responsive thing in a person- especially a very young, unformed person, - that any emphatic, continuous, repetitious input, especially when it's actively intended to shape the mind of the youth, takes deep roots and grows in the directions which are instilled. Most cults or other strongly single-minded systems are quick to actively crush the natural tendency of a human being to want to explore all the possibilities and to develop all its own special abilities. But if those contradict the message, attitude and belief being implanted, they're put down or possibly demonized.
I see this within the family. A boy-child has natural ability to excel in both right and left brain arenas. But the dad is indoctrinated to exclusively value and respect toughness, mechanical interests, and manly sports. which are valuable in balance with creative, sensitive and artistic interests and bents whcih are present in the same child. When others attempt to encourage the more sensitive interests, the dad is adamant that it's to be understood that "MY son will not play musical instruments - or paint - or be interested in reading, or any sissy stuff. . ." And the son is conditioned all the more emphatically to disrespect those areas of learning and accomplishment, even up to inclusion of a well-rounded diet! If the boy truly has interests in both directions, he's somewhat frustrated, but is likely to choose the areas which get approval from Dad and accept that it's not masculine or even acceptable to also excel at the other or "eat rabbit food".
I've seen this, and it's heart-wrenching. One hopes that the true intelligence and abilities of the boy will triumph as he grows into a more independent person, but the dad is unlikely to permit it if he's close enough to maintain the propaganda that it's not OK.
So this malleability of the human mind has both good and bad potentiality, of course, - as almost all human experiences and encounters do. What is sad is when the input is for negativity and the intention to create a closed mind is truly overwhelming, as it can be. The other response of an emerging person can be to go too far the opposite direction in order to reject being molded and dominated - which can be dangerous for the personality, too, when or if it emcompasses all input.
This possibility of being indoctrinated may be due to some characteristics of the conscious mind, such as its tendency to sort out specific things for its attention, and to block out other possible input. In fact, it tends to do that within a person, especially one whose training has preconditioned it. The focusing mind seems to try to take over the driver's seat of the personality and overwhelm the less focused, more elusive but more inclusive subconscious and the wisdom of the entire body. Creatures with less developed mentality actually can and do rely on the whole wisdom of their beings to survive and to thrive. Humans, because of our wonderfully well-developed mentality, have to make special efforts to learn to listen to all our beings and to allow the ability to think more globally, that is - taking in more of the input that's all around us, as well as the specifically focused thinking our minds are ready and willing to do. Some people flexible abilities to emphasis on either specific or global kinds of thinking as needed, but all have innate capability for both. However, when a youngster is sufficiently indoctrinated to focus on and believe in only one way of processing information from one perspective, then less aggressive openness of the mind is overcome and lost. It's nearly impossible for such indoctrination to be undone, it seems, whether the focus is relatively benign or not, once it's taken root so deeply that it simply can't waver or consider any other perspective - - sadly.
Surely the tendency to seek agreement and approval which is inherent in the mind plays a big part. We're interdependent and social creatures whose history and development over the eons has depended on our ability to cluster together and organize to protect ourselves from larger, more physically dangerous animals and natural forces. So we are still drawn to it. Independent, individual thought and ideas are riskier, not only of endangering us to greater forces beyond our individual control, but also we risk disapproval, even condemnation, by our group which can act as an organized machine to overcome what it may view as danger to its own best interests. It has eons of historic practice in it.
One remembers the "holy wars" and other campaigns to stamp out different beliefs. Remember witch-hunts & burnings? Remember scorning of early scientific advances? Remember pooh-poohing of "the new math" and various less-directed, open-minded educational methods designed to allow individually innate development? All of that is still far from acceptance at grass-roots levels.
Mistrust abounds and fear of anything not in the established mold and the list goes on and on. In fact, fear is probably at the roots of the problem and underlies most efforts to enforce one and only one viewpoint. It's terribly obvious in the likes of current radio personalities whose objectives are to create anger, mistrust & suspicion, resistance and discrediting of people whose ideas digressfrom their own.
Even well-meaning efforts to bring balance to such a climate can result in creating yet another "ism" which polarizes people involved. Probably individual example of tolerance and reason is the most effective, though if counter-indoctrination is strong, the effects will be minimal, or - worse - may be demonized.
Yet if enough individuals realize that more acceptance and openness for "other" if necessary, then there's hope. Fortunately,there are growing numbers of folks who really are looking for ways to co-exist.
One at a time, our personal examples of civility can make a difference. It's probably most effective when it arises out of an honest tolerance simply expressing itself. We must be aware that our ideas may be on the one-sided side, as well!