We all want the same thing. Or: “Oops” is better than “Aargh”

Yesterday I asked a potentially important question:


1) Sexism

2) Homophobia

3) Racism

4) Pollution and environmental damage

All relate to obsolete or outmoded tribal survival patterns. Therefore, those committed to solving ANY of them are potential allies of those concerned with the others.”



Lots of interesting answers.

Most human problems have multiple contributing causes.  On one level obesity is a vast interwoven skein of psychological, tactical, social, physiological and nutritional elements.  Baffling and shifting from week to week in the minds of a thousand experts and a million books.   On another level, it is a simple physics equation: IF you take in fewer calories than you burn up, you will lose weight.  No biological system violates this rule.   It can be painful or almost impossibly difficult to do this with various conditions and stages of life, but the physics of it is simple, and any approach that creates this deficit will produce the effect called “losing weight.” Not necessarily HEALTH, you’ll note. Or tone, or happiness.  But the “weight” part of it is simple if hellishly difficult,  no matter how much people argue with it.


Simple realities lead to a vast number of options, all of them designed to deal with some basic observation (create caloric deficit= lose weight).  Saying it is HARD is not the same thing as saying it is impossible.  In fact, no matter what you do other than surgery, every single approach to weight loss, every diet, every exercise program, every psychological therapy, every behavioral intervention, every educational program, one way or another either addresses this underlying reality, or fails.



I like things like that.  They cut through the vast Gordian Knot of different ideas, which may well be correct, but are also often conflicting and changing.


Remember the three gates:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Is it useful?
  3. Is it kind?


The first question is the most important: is it TRUE that these four “isms” are obsolete or non-optimal tribal behavior patterns?   Here is the way I connect them:


  1. Sexism.  Males and females both operate in behavioral boxes designed to produce the maximum number of grandchildren.  Neither is in control of this game, despite the external appearances–the costs are different for each side.  Tribes that didn’t herd their males and females into these boxes seem to have been marginalized or exterminated by those who did.
  2. Racism.  An aspect of “Tribalism”.   The only definition I use: “the attribution of differential worth or capacity on the basis of race or ethnicity.”   Tribalism is PREFERRING your own group. Everybody does that.  Racism is believing your tribe is actually superior.  To put it another way: Tribalism is cheering for the home team.   Racism is actually thinking the other team are “bums.”   Virulent bigotry is knee-capping the members of the other team.  Every group of human beings seems to have evolved a mythology that God made them first and loves them best.  At the least, I know of none that claims they are LESS than the other human beings around them.  This would seem to be an outgrowth of childhood patterns: my mommy is the prettiest, my daddy the strongest, my dog the best.     We think our family is the greatest, but slowly come to understand that loving “your own” doesn’t automatically mean hating or discounting others.  I can love my children without insisting they are BETTER (although, of course, they are.)  We blend families into villages and tribes, tribes into states and nations.  Human beings expanded outward from East Africa, and then a few thousand years ago began to make contact again, with the real acceleration of this process only happening in the last 500 years or so.  It was inevitable that there would be speed bumps.  But that core thing, the US versus THEM, seems to be engrained in us, at a survival level. If you meet a member of another tribe in the bush, you might have a fraction of a second to decide how to react.  If you make a mistake, and kill someone innocent, well you bury him in the bush and never tell anyone, and go home alive. But if you hesitate and he kills YOU?   Your widow and children may starve.  In this sense, “Oops” is better than “Arrgh.”
  3. Homophobia.  The hunter-gatherer lifestyle is actually healthier in many ways than the farming lifestyle.   But farmers won the wars because they could outbreed the hunter-gatherers.  About seventy thousand years ago, human beings went through a genetic bottleneck, reducing to only a few thousand individuals.  Is there any doubt why we might evolve a series of rules and value hierarchies that screamed REPRODUCE!!!  So…we get clear sanctioning of reproductive sex under socially approved conditions so that those children will have optimal chance of survival.  Reproducing genes AND memes.   Oral sex, masturbation, and homosexuality don’t fit into that category, and I’d bet that as populations increase, all three become less problematic “morally.”   Are there additional aspects, like fear of “effeminacy” or “false masculine behavior”?  Sure, but both can be considered part of that “keep them in the reproductive boxes.”
  4. Environmental pollution and destruction.    The smaller the population, the smaller the “footprint” and the easier it is for the natural world to absorb our waste products and general foolishness.   Oh, human beings have been able to abuse the environment for a very long time: Easter Island is just one example of a Malthusian crash-and-burn in prehistoric times.  There are others.  But in general, prior to the world having plenty’o’people, the rule “use everything around you, kill everything you can eat, slash and burn, and dump your shit in the river” doesn’t cause problems until there is a village downstream from you, or your population is high enough that you have to start moving around to let the environment rest from your hunting and gathering.  Swidden farming grew out of this.  The fact is that no matter how careful you are, your population can reach the place where your waste solids, liquids, and heat impact the environment negatively.  We are currently having that debate, and most of the people I trust to have opinions on scientific things agree that yeah, we’re screwing the pooch.    But the millions of primate years, and hundreds of thousands of human years, that say “the world is vastly larger than we are” have left their imprint.  It takes time to turn the Titanic around, especially if we have absorbed countless rules and laws, related to survival and inculcated at an unconscious cultural level, that tell us we will die if we don’t expand and consume endlessly.


We make decisions emotionally.  We DEFEND them with logic.



So, those are my reasons for thinking it is “true” that these patterns relate to ancient tribal survival patterns.  And of course, you’ll see PERSONAL survival patterns in there as well.

But if I’m right, and these things relate (to some degree) to old and outmoded  survival patterns, is it a USEFUL observation?


Well, first, I think that prima facie,   truth is always better than falsehood, delusion, fantasy, mythology.  But HOW might this be true here?

First, it is useful because we can see that at the core, at the base of all these things, there is the urge to do something positive: survive on the group or individual level.  


If we add another set of observations it gets better: violence stems from anger, and anger is just a mask over fear.  IF that is true, then all the anger and violence that relates to racism, sexism, homophobia and argumentation about our environment is just fear. Fear of death, fear of not fitting into a social box, fear of domination, fear of starvation and lack.


And THAT is useful IF IT IS TRUE that, while these behaviors were “positive” at one point in our evolution, they are NEGATIVE now.   Do positives turn to negatives? (we’re back to “is it true?” here).  I use the example of hunger.  When your belly is empty, hunger motivates you to eat and supply your body with nutrition. But once you have provided the nutrients and building blocks necessary to replace what you have burned or damaged or used, if your hunger doesn’t “shut off” you begin to store those extra calories as fat, like a car with bladders of gas strapped to the chassis.  Hunger needs to TURN OFF once you have eaten enough.  If it doesn’t, if you eat for emotional rather than physical reasons, if you let your blood sugar go on a roller-coaster, if you no longer match the profile of output to input, as happens organically in the natural world…hunger can become a danger rather than an asset.

Let’s add some other notions I’ve suggested over the years:


  1. Anger is fear.
  2. All animals try to move away from pain, and toward pleasure.
  3. Survival of the individual or tribe are the most basic instructions.


Here is the beautiful thing: IF this is true, then the very behaviors that USED to work just great (on the level of tribal survival, NOT necessarily on the level of personal fulfillment and freedom) are now counter-productive.  That means that anti-Sexist, anti-Racist, anti-Homophobic and pro-Environmental actions are now the PLEASURE/SURVIVAL switch, and it is an ILLUSION that the negative behaviors protect you.


That means that despite the MRA shrieking about women’s changing roles and increasing power, freedom for women means greater freedom and pleasure for men as well.


That means that despite the centuries of racial stress, as we blend together we’ll get over it and create a larger, stronger human tribe.   Exogamy is the rule, not the exception. You have to pass laws to stop people from boinking The Other.  We are simply turned on by difference.  Research suggests that racial blends are more attractive, on the average, than “pure” ANYTHING.  All we have to do is believe in racial equality…frankly, as far as I’m concerned, I’d be o.k. with locking those who don’t in a ballroom and let them fight it out with hand grenades.  Well, not really, but you can probably understand where I’m coming from. Sorry.  Evil Steve popped out there for a moment.

Down boy!  (And now, we return to our regularly scheduled spiritual dialogue…)


That means that the “make the maximum number of babies” rule that contributed to homophobia is simply no longer a survival need. And I have a suspicion that as that reality becomes more apparent, our grandkids are gonna be a LOT more gender fluid and capable of loving someone for their soul, not just the meat package they come in.  I think we’re seeing it now.


That means that if we can DEMONSTRATE that a given environmental conservation approach doesn’t damage our ability to survive, we will find people embracing them more. There are genuine concerns here, and we need to hear each other.  Energy is critical to a technological civilization, and oil has been hella convenient.   As methods of storing and harvesting renewable energies are proven we will naturally move in that direction as the price of oil increases due to scarcity. But BOTH sides believe their approach will cause less pain and more pleasure. Both are driven by survival, pain, and love.


Understand this, and we can talk to each other like the brothers and sisters we are.


There is an NLP  technique called CORE TRANSFORMATION.  It says that every human behavior, no matter how violent and evil, was really an attempt to reclaim the peace of the womb, or perhaps to connect with the divine.   As illogical as this may sound, I’ve experienced and used the process (and I’m sure you can research and find an MP3 that will demonstrate its use) and believe it is more true than not.


And I think the same truth exists for societies.   Every action, no matter how horrible, how damaging, how genocidal or repressive was, at the core, an attempt to move away from pain toward pleasure. To help their tribe survive.   Operating on the “fear” switch until they were safe enough to take a breath and ask “who am I?” and “what is true?” which leads to deeper questions. Better, kinder questions.   Turning on the “love” switch.

But first, always, they have to feel SAFE.


Fear and love compete for the same place in our hearts.


And there is the third question:  “Is it kind?”  Yes. It is.  It suggests a way out for all of us. A way to see each other’s humanity, to realize that people can do monstrous things, but that on some level they are just an embryo floating in a womb, unable to understand why everything is so loud and bright and hurtful.


That the natural tendency of humanity is to change, grow, become more complex, and create social organization to minimalize pain and maximize pleasure…and IF it is true that we are all one, that love is what is true, then that realization cannot be stopped. Truth will win. It always there. The lies come and go, as do the liars.

But truth remains.


If you are one of the ones who believes in truth, in love, then all you need to do is protect yourself, but see that the pain and anger in the world is just the effect of dwelling in fear, and much of that means playing by rules that no longer serve us.  But people must feel SAFE before they can even begin to see this.  Attack them, threaten them, accuse them…and they simply tighten their fists. Which is great if you want a fight, of course.


But…that’s YOUR fear talking. And if you cannot understand that, you are part of the problem.


Be a part of the answer. Be strong, yes…but love.  Remember…but forgive.


It’s the way out of the trap.  Everything else is a grenade fight in a locked room called “Earth.”







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