Are we Remembering or Reinforcing & Conditioning?
Are we Remembering or Reinforcing & Conditioning?
by Catherine Whelan Costen
Today I’d like to explore a bit more into this concept I started with my last post on Nov. 5, 2013. I wrote a post called Believing is Seeing or Is it?
As I wonder about all the things I believe as true and wonder where all that information came from to create my particular beliefs I’m drawn to consider the innocent baby. A new born baby coming into this world, regardless of race, culture or circumstances has already been impressed or imprinted from his or her mother with certain cell memory but they haven’t yet come to understand the full concept of life on this planet.
We inherit some of our beliefs from parents; society, culture and we also develop some of them from our own experience. They say that a child up till about 3 years old is like a sponge, with no filters to stop information from coming in or to discern whether anything is true or not.
If the majority of new babies were not told that certain people are bad, that they need to fear certain other people, or religions, or coloured skin or anyone who isn’t exactly like their immediate family; and not told who to hate I wonder what kind of world we would have?
If we didn’t spend any time at all telling new arrivals what has happened on the planet before their arrival, how would they see our planet?
Remembrance Day always invites my exploration of past. We think it’s critical to impress on the next generation the price of war, the sacrifices made and in order to do so we often tell stories of the enemy, the heroes and the horrific carnage of war. We say that we do so in order to NOT repeat these mistakes. But when I really look at our collective history I notice that we never do seem to learn from those so-called mistakes. We call them mistakes, but then we reinforce the ‘reasons’ or justifications for killing each other and tell that to the next generation.
I think it’s wonderful that we have so many different traditions, cultural practices and beliefs around the world but what if we stopped retelling our wounded being stories to the next generation? Would they really repeat our mistakes? If we didn’t tell our children that our particular bloodline had terrible things happen to them and explain all about the other people who oppressed us, stole our land, killed our relatives and in so many ways treated us very inhumanely; would the next generation simply live in peace? If they had no prep-story would they just accept people as people and create together from what is here now?
We can see the evidence of certain recent historical events, but many of those are founded in old stories. They were fed the repetitive subtle beliefs from the past, which in fact fueled the basis for today’s horrors. The old stories often have to be exhumed in order to feed today’s hate or feeling of oppression.
If we don’t tell baby boys or girls that one is more important than the other by virtue of their gender, or skin colour or other societal and cultural practices, then would they judge each other by those markers as we collectively have done for eons?
I never personally experienced much of the horror of war but I can feel it in my body. I can feel my distaste for those who terrorized others and compassion for the victims; and even create my own beliefs to dislike someone who ‘reminds’ me of someone from past history. I can call up images that will help me feed my likes and dislikes but only because they were presented to me, not because I have a personal experience of it.
Letting go of beliefs that were never ours is very difficult because of all the stories we’ve been told. But what if we didn’t tell our children the stories of pain and instead told the stories of joy? There aren’t as many around but we could start today.
Just like most of us have never physically seen the entire earth to know it’s not flat but instead rely on our trust and faith in the person who informed us. Our inner knowing to determine what is probably true or not is often not cultivated. Many of us trust something outside of ourselves because we’ve been taught not to trust anything inside. We have grown up in a culture of information overload and many learned that in order to be accepted by our peers, we had to parrot the same answers as the teachers teaching us.
We have not had a culture of expansion and exploring rather we’ve had a kind of photocopier culture. Each new generation is taught to believe what the previous one believed and was rewarded for being an excellent copy of the past. Perhaps stretching a wee bit, but not much beyond what has already been accepted as fact. The rare person who has challenged what was accepted as true, usually went through a great deal of rejection and criticism prior to being honoured for their courage to expand. (Frequently the honouring happened after their death)
When we challenge our beliefs and start discerning for ourselves it can be very uncomfortable. Cultivating the inner wisdom and the connection to truth can be a rocky road. Many are beginning to do so, but when I arrived on this planet I know that what was considered true was a somewhat collective belief not an absolute truth. There were specific people who the masses considered to be the authorities on truth. The rest of the beings were expected to simply accept the teachings, rules, beliefs of those held in positions of authority; i.e. church, science, political powers, teachers, lawyers and doctors for the most part.
The beauty of that kind of world is that the masses could simply enjoy their lives and not question any rule or belief. They worked, ate, drank, slept, prayed for a better life and played whenever they weren’t working. Everything was dependant on something or someone outside of themselves. Today we are beginning to notice those ideas were not actually truths, but rather beliefs. So often many of the beliefs had agendas.
I think we can see that the old systems based on these false beliefs are falling aside and the new wants to be born. What if we let go of ALL the concepts, which do not serve us and explored what does serve us? What if we allowed our children to see the world with fresh eyes and teach us what is true for them, rather than telling them about the past with all it’s bias and distorted version of truth?
I wonder what kind of world we would have if we allowed in a new reality? Wouldn’t it be interesting to see? Not to deny the past, but to let it be past without all the present emotion feeding it. There are probably people in my life that I’ve never really known because I was told not to trust them, not to like them because of what they did to someone else, not to associate with them because of someone else’s judgement and so on. I wonder if my life experience missed a great gift by accepting someone else’s perception of that person? I wonder how different my life would have been had I not been told about how unequal and unentitled I was by virtue of my gender? What if nobody told me that I had to work twice as hard to prove my value and get half the pay because the world believed I’d be taken care of by a man? What if I never was told that? More importantly what if I was told that I had the ability to trust my own inner voice to discern the difference between an absolute and an opinion?
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