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SAVAGING and SAVAGES

11 July, 2012

It is well known that savaging a child has a high probability of producing a savage child and subsequent adult.  Death rows are saturated with what were savaged children.

It is known as well that it is far easier to savage a child than it is to ‘un-savage’ that child.  The damage done is enormously difficult to undo.  Further, doing so requires recognition by the child/adult that the state of being a savage is strictly an internal problem that requires (a) a recognition of the former and (2) a deep desire to transcend that state of savageness.

The savaged and savage adult tends to perceive all of the evil as being outside of themselves in an evil world dedicated to making their lives miserable.  Their own savageness is what is referred to as “ego syntonic” … acceptable to the self and easily incorporated into the sense of self.

Where I want to go with this is the expansion of that problem to entire peoples.  Just as it is with individuals, it is rather easy to savage entire peoples but extraordinarily difficult to even approach ‘un-savaging’ those people.  The reasons are the same.  Savaged peoples perceive the evil as existing outside of themselves, usually in the persons and cultures of other peoples.  Further, the existence of the savagery is syntonic to the ego mass of the peoples … usually even elevated and twisted into a virtue that justifies their actions and sustains their ongoing savagery.

Time does not heal all wounds, but it does help … lots and lots of it.  Right now, in the middle east, we are dealing with savaged people who, without a twinge, can commit savage acts like beheadings and glorify such acts as not only justifiable, the evil being outside of themselves, but virtuous.

It appears some think the problem is as simple as getting various groups to work together… to perceive a path to the common good and advancement of civilization in their areas or nations.  I submit that is about a naïve a view as is possible to hold.  The root of the violence lies in the history of having been savaged and the self-perpetuating spiral of ongoing savagery and savaging of each other … as well as the “evil ones” (the great Satan or whoever else gets pegged as the problem).

What to do about it?  For one thing, we must do what we can to stop adding to the savaging of those peoples; help the spiral of savaging and the production of even more savages to peter out little by little.

For another thing, we must recognize that the ‘un-savaging’ process will take a very, very long time … perhaps something approaching a century (or perhaps even centuries).  It cannot be rushed, it cannot be imposed, and it certainly cannot be imposed with further savagery.  It will, as it is in working with savaged children and adults, require enormous patience and intense, crystal mindfulness of how easy it is slip into the insanity of trying to stamp out savagery with savageness.  One cannot beat the anger and violence out of an entire people any more than one can beat the anger and violence out of a child.

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One Comment
  1. Thanks for the thought, Shaun. With the way our brains are structured, there’s a savage within us all. Evolution has given us the capacity to override those drives/impulses but that requires vigilence and dedication to doing so. I doubt we’ll ever evolve not to have those impulses but perhaps we’ll develop an innate, automatic suppression or sublimation of them. In the wake of my war experiences, I tried very hard to adopt non-violence … took some Quaker courses and more. In the end, looking deep inside of myself, I found I could not do so but I arrived at comfort with non-aggression, a close second.

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