"It's time to look at the whole once again, and, yes, I think we can begin talking about insect colonies [or human societies] as superorganisms, but without the mysticism."
Edward O. Wilson of Harvard University (1)
The L-brain western society
Is modern western society helping to avoid mentally unstable behaviours from ever developing in healthy and normal people?
Unfortunately, the structure of modern western society today does not seem to be promoting a balanced approach to thinking/problem-solving. We only have to look at the education system to see what we mean by this.
Leading American neuroscientist Dr Roger W. Sperry gave his view on the education system of western society as follows:
"Our educational system, as well as science in general, tends to neglect the non-verbal form of intellect. What it comes down to is that modern society discriminates against the right hemisphere." (2)
Educational researcher Joseph Bogen said in UCLA Educator:
"The current emphasis in education on the acquisition of verbal skills and the development of analytical thought processes neglects the development of nonverbal abilities....[It is] starving one half of the brain and ignoring its contribution to the whole person." (3)
Another staunch supporter of this observation is American educationalist Bob Eberle. He comments that:
"The over-emphasis on left-brain thinking operations continues even though we know that the greater achievements of the human mind require the integrated functioning of both hemispheres of the brain. If our goal is to develop healthy personalities, if we desire to cultivate creativity to the fullest, then it becomes necessary to teach for hemispheric harmony." (4)
World governments prefer L-brain skills
As another example of the imbalanced nature of modern society, the R-brain skill of being able to creatively think big, see the interrelationships in many things, and ultimately solve many problems on a large-scale is largely being forgotten by various world governments in favour of more L-brain short-term "commercialisable" solutions designed to make money for governments and businesses.
Emeritus Professor and former director of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health Bob Douglas has supported this view. After visiting the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and being impressed by its long-term thinking strategic research approach to natural and social sciences, Professor Douglas has setup a similar organisation known as "Australia 21" to fill what he perceives to be a gap in "big thinking" research in his country. As Professor Douglas said:
"Our aim is to get the best minds in the country and focus them on problems so big they are not easily dealt with in the conventional research environment.
'We want to pursue ideas that focus on public good and the kind of world our grandchildren will inherit, rather than dollars, and while Australians are very good at science, many scientists are not able to think big when they are trying to meet funding deadlines." (5)
The workplace of Western society prefers L-brain skills
Even employees working in Western society are required to think and act like L-brain people (more appropriately described as robots). Because men are renouned for their strong L-brain skills, ACTU president Sharan Burrow described the Australian workplace in 2004:
"The fact is that Australian workplaces were designed for men, by men of another era." (6)
For example, you will still find many employees required to work overtime in many job positions and perform a number of very specific tasks precisely and repetitively without concerns for family life.
Hell, who ever uses R-brain skills these days? Does anyone suffer in a L-brain society?
There are people who do suffer in a L-brain dominant society. These are normally the artists, the philosophers and children who are described as "gifted".
As Schools editor Ebru Yaman of The Australian stated in a newspaper article dated 10 January 2001:
"HIGHLY intelligent children can be branded "lazy" or "average" students because of a learning difficulty that depresses their IQ according to an expert in gifted education.
'Clinical psychologist Lesley Sword said this group of students, known as "gifted visual spatial learners", did not respond well to traditional [L-brain] teaching methods that depended on verbal and auditory skills.
'Dr Sword, who runs the Gifted Resource Centre in Melbourne, has worked with gifted children for nine years and has been specialising in visual spatial learners for the past four years.
'In that time, she has identified more than 200 gifted children as visual spatial learners.
'Dr Sword, who will deliver her paper, "I Think in Pictures, You Teach in Words" at a University of NSW seminar today, said this type of child thought in images and had to visualise information in order to learn.
'"There is a mismatch between their learning style...and the way in which school material is usually presented to them," she said.
'Dr Sword said these students were in a catch-22 situation where their giftedness and their learning difficulty cancelled each other out and they were therefore perceived as average.
'As a result, they did not realise their potential and many dropped out of school as early as Year 10....
'Among Dr Sword's recommendations for teaching these students is that they are seated at the front of the class to minimise distractions; oral directions of more than two or three steps should be written on the blackboard; all school work, including class work, should be done on computer wherever possible; and a sight approach should be taken to spelling and reading, rather than phonics." (7)
Another factor forcing people to use their L-brain excessively is through unrelenting pressure and stress because of the amount of tasks to be completed and/or the complexity of the tasks required to be completed in a given timeframe. Because our L-brain society has an expectation of people to perform many complex tasks at once in a process called multiskilling, children must face a similar regime by starting early in life.
More and more parents and teachers in the L-brain cities of the Western world such as Sydney are seizing on the latest buzzword early intervention in a somewhat extremist way to force children to learn many complex tasks at a young age which would normally be learnt naturally given enough time with the help of the R-brain and in a better way.
As Sydney mother Lorraine said to The Sydney Morning Herald in March 2005:
"It's about making the most of the abilities of your child. You've got to because school's so competitive. You're not pushing them, you're just helping them along. The last thing you want is to be held back by writing slowly." (Robotham, Julie. Growing Pains: The Sydney Morning Herald. 12-13 March 2005, p.27.)
Medical editor for The Sydney Morning Herald Julie Robotham says parents and teachers across Sydney are sending an increasing number of children at a younger age (some as young as 2 years) to occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech pathologists and specialist optometrists in an attempt to solve a number of so-called perceived problems.
Some problems may be justified if parents and professionals can clearly observe them in children. But for others, combined with the increasingly younger age of a number of children, many are being sent to places for no good reason other than to relieve the worries of parents who don't know what the world will be like except knowing that it will be more competitive.
Although some professionals are helping to make the learning of skills more enjoyable for children through games, they are not allowing children to think for themselves. Rather, the adult world is expecting the next generation of adults to support and maintain the L-brain society without teaching them to be creative and applying new ways of doing things. Instead, children are being crammed with a host of short-term skills in preparation for the workforce and to help them become more competitive in L-brain society.
As Paul Whiting, a senior lecturer in education at the University of Sydney, has observed, the school curriculum is being increasingly packed with more subjects and forcing children into increasing competition.
The result is that some brains are not yet ready to handle the sophisticated tasks required of them in a L-brain society. Learning abstract complexities such as reading at a very young age without the ability to complement the reading with clear visual aids and adequate time is only adding to the stress. Then as children grow older and learn how to deal with these abstracts by using the L-brain to remember and regurgitate the facts without fully understanding them, children learn to think stress, more communication, competition, discrimination and other L-brain skills are acceptable in the modern adult world.
Yet there is no other solution in the minds of parents living in the cities except through forced, highly crammed, quick learning and very early intervention in their children's education. If it means sending them to therapists, psychologists and the works, then so be it.
Professor Jack Shonkoff of the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child believes parents are misinterpreting some US scientists' statements on the importance of early intervention and how some business entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the situation:
"Occupational therapy for children with developmental disability, where it's well matched to the child, is a very worthy intervention. The use of occupational therapy without serious disability with a view to improving efficiency to improve their learning later? I am not aware of any data that [it is] effective." (Robotham, Julie. Growing Pains: The Sydney Morning Herald. 12-13 March 2005, p.27.)
In other words, parents appear to be quick to label their children as having a problem if they don't meet the standards or norms provided by government and scientific information. Parents get easily worried when the children don't achieve a certain task in a certain way or at a particular time. This is especially the case for standards that refer to very young children under 5 years of age compared to 10 or 12 year olds. Because the brain is developing for very young kids using both the L- and R-brain, it is easy for some standards not to be met. So instead of letting the children develop the skills in their own time and in the best way from a R-brain point-of-view (schools should just provide the essential learning for developing both sides of the brain), parents feel compelled to immediately seek professional help when, in fact, their children could be going through a normal learning pattern or may be the natural inclination to develop stronger R-brain skills which parents and society may unwittingly be surpressing by sending the kids to therapies.
As for some other more competitive L-brain parents, some may be taking advantage of the professional therapies available so as to give their children a head start thinking this is the way children can be prepared for the modern world. This is on top of the already hectic, competitive and crammed learning lifestyle of most modern L-brain schools.
In a nutshell, parents worry too much and are too competitive an understandable reaction given the nature of our L-brain society. Therefore children, who are only too eager to please, are made to feel pressured to succeed in the eyes of their parents and ultimately for the rest of society (e.g. through the things we read in magazines) at any age because of the highly competitive L-brain nature of our so-called modern society without looking more closely at what is needed for children to learn, reducing the stress levels for children when learning, and letting children work it out for themselves.
Children have the tools to solve any problems on their own if given time and adequate support.
As Paul Hutchins, head of the child development until at the Children's Hospital at Westmead, said:
"Society doesn't accept what children are [or even accept what children wish to creatively become and solve for society]. There are inappropriate expectations of children. In general, society is becoming more demanding of those children [to meet certain accepted standards]." (Robotham, Julie. Parents worry so kids go to therapy: The Sydney Morning Herald. 12-13 March 2005, p.2.)
The result will be more L-brain people entering the workforce from parents who haven't thought of a different way.
The problem of day care centres
Another example of adults forcing their children through the L-brain system are day-care centres.
As more and more parents decide to leave their increasingly younger children in day-care centres for longer hours and more days per week, often with limited numbers of carers for the number of children present, so the parents can handle the L-brain system and become more materialist, very young children either become L-brain people or people who want to be normal and balanced but are upset, feeling lonely, depressed and eventually emerge as troubled teens and adults.
A psychologist with more than 30 years experience, Dr Steve Biddulph, has spent five years examining and distilling the results of national and international studies on infants left in long day care. What he found is not good. Biddulph said:
"I had started out as a believer in the ideal of quality nursery care and the role it played in allowing women to broaden their lives...but the more I saw of the reality of day-care centres and nurseries and the more conversations I had with parents and carers, it became clear to me that the reality never matched the fantasy.
'The best nurseries struggle to meet the needs of very young children in a group setting. The worst were negligent, frightening and bleak: a nightmare of bewildered loneliness that was heartbreaking to watch.
'Children at this age under three want one thing only: the individual care of their own special person. Even the best run nurseries cannot offer this. [Day care centres nowadays are designed to] slot messy and needy young people into the new economic system, while at the same time reassuring us that it is good for them, socially and educationally." (Totaro, Paola. Day care is bad for babies Biddulph: The Sydney Morning Herald. 18-19 March 2006, pp.1-2.)
Even if children do get the correct care as Biddulph would like to see, constant emphasis on L-brain skills (communication, group situations, rational thinking etc) and the fast-paced nature of our L-brain society can continue to have detrimental effect on the behaviour of children over the long-term.
But if we are to minimise the problems between the age of 0 to 5 years, Biddulph recommends one-on-one care by the parent in the first year of a child, short one day one-on-one care with a trusted carer in the second year, and one-on-one care with a trusted carer for two days and introducing a day to two to a quality centre providing care in a group situation but only when the child is able to settle in well in this L-brain situation. Between the ages of 3 to 5, the child can have up to three or four days of quality care in a day-care centre.
Just one thing to remember. As Biddulph said:
"Quality care appropriate to very young children does not exist. It is a fantasy of the glossy magazines. If your heart has been uneasy about these things, it is probably right. [But] you can find a better way." (Totaro, Paola. Day care is bad for babies Biddulph: The Sydney Morning Herald. 18-19 March 2006, pp.1-2.)
A need for balance?
There is a need for balance in society. Our society needs to relax, slow down what it is doing, choose what is important and needy in life and not the things we want, simplify the knowledge, spend more time being on our own, be more creative in our thinking, and create visual and auditory clues of the things we learn from our thinking and environment. Then time must be given for the learning to be fully understood.
Undoubtedly we need more R-brain people or people who can switch over to apply R-brain skills in their daily life. People like the "visual spatial" types who can use their ability to simplify knowledge, to see the links between seemingly unrelated patterns and with it the ability to pick out the essential patterns of life needed to do things in an easier way, and to put a clear "long-term" focus and aim on things rather than being so focussed on the specifics, being quick and then losing the way after a while.
Can we reach a state of balance?
Unfortunately in a highly L-brain society focussed on making money in a competitive and hurried world, R-brain people are not properly trained and supported for their skills and allowed to do different things.
We can observe this from the poorly paid R-brain jobs on offer such as being an artist, an educator, a holistic researcher, an creative author and a dancer, unless they happen to be famous, but only if they can do the work quickly for others (usually under stress and with regular and unremitting deadlines) and often in the way other people want them to think and design, not how it should be designed.
Similarly in the arts, people are not noted for their R-brain abilities until they are dead, which ends up being cheaper for L-brain society by not having to support the creative people. Unless the creative people can somehow be supported, rarely does society support them to achieve something unique and original for the benefit of all.
Then there are other creative R-brain people who can apply their skills to solving world problems or seeing a new technology (e.g. inventors) instead of drawing them on a canvas.
The consequences of a L-brain society
What are the behavioural consequences of prolonged L-brain thinking for the people of western society and for the natural environment? If children grow up to be mostly L-brain types, then on the scale of a society, the behaviour of this superorganism on planet Earth is the same as for a L-brain individual.
For example, apart from a general reduction in the interest shown by students in their study as soon as they progress from Primary schools to High Schools and eventually into tertiary studies (8), two other consequences occur in adult life.
On 12 June 1993, The Canberra Times published on page 9 the following article entitled, Massacre Toll Rises to 547:
"MONROVIA: Medical workers in Liberia say 547 bodies have been buried after a massacre of civilians on Sunday and the death toll could reach 600.
Liberia's interim government has ordered two separate investigations into the killings at Carter Camp, a farming area near the town of Harbel, and said the Armed Forces of Liberia Militia did not do enough to stop them.
Survivors and the Government have accused Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia of carrying out the killings...."
Hon. Victoria Chitepo, former Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism in Zimbabwe, Africa, made a statement on the status of our natural environment at the WCED Opening Ceremony in Harare on 18 September 1986:
"The remarkable achievements of the celebrated Industrial Revolution are now beginning to be seriously questioned principally because the environment was not considered at the time. It was felt that the sky was so vast and clear, nothing could ever change its colour, our rivers so big and their water so plentiful that no amount of human activity could ever change their quality, and there were trees and natural forests so plentiful that we will never finish them. After all, they grow again.
Today we should know better. The alarming rate at which the Earth's surface is being denuded of its natural vegetative cover seems to indicate that the world may soon become devoid of trees through clearing for human developments."
And most importantly, the application of strong L-brain thinking in modern society is almost certainly having a serious and damaging effect on the mental health of a growing number of people, especially the young who are not well-equipped with adequate development of the human emotions not to mention the necessary R-brain and L-brain skills to solve problems effectively, creatively, in the easiest and most enjoyable way possible, and balanced.
"How?", you may ask.
An emotionally-deprived and uncreative western society
Strong L-brain thinking always prize the fragmentation of people and events into very specific, quantifiable and often unmeaningful symbols (or patterns) created by the mind. The advantage in this approach is that it gives some L-brain people the power to develop a communicative language, a technology, and a means of improving the efficiency of people performing a certain quantity of work (and so ultimately allow a few people a chance to survive and live comfortably).
Unfortunately, an overemphasis on this kind of thinking eventually teaches people to reduce everything, including living things, to unemotional and uncreative "things" or "robots" carrying a certain price tag and this gives some L-brain people a means of regularly quantifying them and thus determining their scale of importance and value in the scheme of things.
Now, so long as we are not totally deprived of our R-brain abilities, let us imagine for a moment how these people near the bottom of this "scale" would feel. Would they believe that they are important or worthy citizens in society? No. In all likelihood, they would feel like being categorised inside a "box" created by the mind and, after a while, may often have a negative connotation associated with it because they are seen by others as having little, if any, importance to society.
This negative "I am not that important to society", or "I/we feel like crap" feeling established in those people of so-called "lesser importance" is further emphasised by the fact that a L-brain person who creates these scales of importance are often highly competitive individuals that believe:
- it is okay to regularly change everything around them;
- it is okay to get others to adapt to anything (even if it means doing the wrong thing);
- it is okay to reduce leisure and sleep time;
- it is okay to be quick about what we do and say because "time is money";
- it is okay to make as much money as possible; and
- it is okay to have anything we want through the money we earn.
This L-brain person will also expect everyone and everything to fit within a very rigid, tight and rapidly changing schedule requiring people to work for very long hours and to tight deadlines in order to make as much profit as possible for the L-brain person, and often in the face of increasingly less support and resources.
If you were working for (or living with) this L-brain person, wouldn't you feel like an unemotional and uncreative robot after a while?
To achieve the highest productivity in workers, managers often use mathematical formulas (e.g. queuing theory) in an attempt to strip down people to mechanical objects so they may find the most efficient ways of doing things.
Then to achieve those results, managers justify their mathematical solutions by increasing working hours and reducing pay for permanent employees, or sacking them from their permanent positions and having them reemployed as "consultants", which gives managers greater power to remove or employ people when cost-cutting or maximising profits at any moment in time.
Unfortunately managers apply too much mathematical formulas to their work. They quickly learn to dehumanise people and forget how important a relaxed and stable working environment with adequate time for people to think is, and how the emotions and the creativity of people can solve problems in extraordinary and powerful ways managers can only dream about.
Managers have to realised that for the most extraordinary and powerful solutions to appear in reality, it is impossible to set a time frame or know for sure exactly what results will be achieved through the creativity of people working under them. The improvements and benefits derived from human creativity combined with a healthy, relaxed and happy workforce are usually so great that no amount of efficiency management technique will ever beat the results.
Also, managers must be careful not to ignore the emotions of people when doing the work. Emotional labour is the terminology used by psychologists for describing the high emotional response experienced by staff when doing the work. If the emotions are not dealt with appropriately, stress leave, social unrest (e.g. union strikes) and more serious social consequences may take place.
Unfortunately, without adequate rest, education, social interaction, acknowledging the positive and creative contributions, and other forms of support during regular problem-solving for people doing the work will not guarantee a solution to any problem, especially a good one.
And if people are forced to find a good "creative" solution without sufficient support, there is a serious risk of causing stress and eventually brain damage in many normal, healthy people who were brought up through the L-brain education system.
It is either that, or people will decide not to solve problems any more (and so avoid the dangers of mental illness). But in these cases, the people are more likely to end up on the streets, or become loners or even join fringe groups, where they will probably learn to fight back against society in a negative way in order to deal with their frustration and stress.
Serious social consequences by individuals on a L-brain society
For example, in an article entitled, 'Emotionally deprived' murderer escapes life, published on page 6 of The Canberra Times dated 8 April 2000:
"SYDNEY: A murderer who strangled three people escaped a life sentence yesterday because he had been rejected and emotionally deprived while growing up.
'In jailing Matthew James Harris..., Justice Virginia Bell said Harris had experienced a "significant level" of emotional deprivation and rejection....
'Justice Bell said Harris told police he was angry with the world and strangling people was his revenge on society.
'"[Harris] was angry and found killing to be an outlet for that anger," she said."
Or what about the case of the 36-year-old Monash University student from Melbourne named Huan Yun Xiang who was charged with killing two Chinese students and wounding 5 others with a handgun?
On Monday 21 October 2002, at a time when students at Monash University were finishing their studies and preparing for exams, Xiang was due to give his final presentation in class.
For a fourth year student, Xiang was considered relatively normal by other fellow students and his lecturers. Perhaps the only thing people could say was different about him prior to this time was that he was a loner (9) and he did not speak English all that terribly well.
Other than that, for a person with the technical abilities to handle a rather specialised and demanding L-brain subject called econometrics involving statistical analysis in economics, Xiang excelled himself. He studied hard, mostly on his own with little or no support from others. He achieved what was asked of him. And that was it.
Then suddenly, without prior warning of the impending violent behaviour about to beset this young man, he decided for some reason to use his licensed handgun to harm as many students as possible.
Why? Was it because so many L-brain socialites kept away from him because he was a loner and didn't speak English well and thus deprived him of the emotional and creative development he so deserved like everyone else? Or was it because L-brain society was too preoccupied with L-brain activities such as delivering lectures within tight constraints, getting so many people through the system as quickly as possible, making money, and thus not having the time to observe and listen to the needs of people like Xiang?
Our feeling is that Western society really has to address the more fundamental issue of excessive L-brain thinking as the first critical step towards solving this serious social problem.
Unfortunately, in the wake of this incident at Monash University, Australian authorities are now calling for more L-brain skills to be taught by way of a language ability review as if verbal communication is the solution to all human problems. Well yes, communication is an important first step, but it is not the total solution to this human tragedy.
What likely happened in this situation was that from Xiang's Eastern society point-of-view, he had probably thought people in Australia were going to notice his situation and even help the student by talking to him to see how he was doing.
As it turned out, Westeners didn't think to go this far. Most people in Western countries like Australia would prefer to stick to their own group of friends at work or at home, keep away from anyone who don't fit into their view of the world, were too busy doing their own thing of making money and keeping their own jobs for security and as a means of having what they want, and were expecting everyone in the world to know where to go and to verbally communicate all their needs to certain people hiding in very specific places.
Our society has to stop thinking so incredibly L-brain like this to the point where we have to rationalise everything and then treat other people like unemotional and uncreative talkative little robots with a specialised "cog in a wheel" task to do for society.
We don't need to apply so much emphasis on the importance of quick rational thinking and technical abilities, social interaction through regular verbal communication (i.e. very little other forms of communication such as touching each other and acknowledging each other's presence because of a fear that it is not appropriate as if there would be a sexual connotation behind the touching or there's something wrong with us if we acknowledge other humans beings), and in limiting emotional and creative human development and expression.
Yet interestingly no one at the university or in society (even among his fellow Chinese friends) had thought to ask if the student would have needed help in this area. He was just another unfortunately "L-brain" man of Chinese dissent with strong technical abilities with respect to number crunching who was probably in need of social support, but none was forthcoming.
So where is our love and compassion for people like Xiang? Or are we so L-brain in our thinking that we are at the point of breaking the very fabric of what society is suppose to be about?
Serious social consequences by groups of people on a L-brain society
And let's not think a few deaths is all the damage these people of so-called "lesser importance" can achieve, or that only individuals are capable of causing problems for a L-brain society.
The scale of destruction can be a whole lot worse and they don't need an army to lay siege to an entire country or even the world using the right technology. Take for instance the devastation created by a group of well-organised terrorists of certain poorer nations who attacked the symbols of capitalism of the great L-brain world at New York's World Trade Center (10) on 11 September 2001. (11)
When we hear of the destruction some people can create in what we describe as "evil", it is easy for the rest of society to argue of their own innocence in these matters. And to prove it, fault is often placed on these people by sending them to prison or eliminating the person in an attempt to hide or eliminate "the evil".
The truth is, everything is interconnected and where one evil appears, it is always because another type of evil exists in a different part of the world which is affecting the original evil.
For example, it is quite possible that rich people living in a L-brain "Westernised" society create a system they call the "free world" which is not so free for poorer people because of the way they are treated as a second-class citizen (i.e. as a cheap resource for the rich to use to help achieve their own money-making goals; or there is not enough support by way of food, love and true freedom).
So when an evil action is committed by someone in a poorer country, either because there is limited natural resources available to the person to survive or whatever the differences imposed on them, it is not unusual for the rich people to start blaming the poorer person because they think the person is entirely responsible for his/her situation. However, in truth, it is quite likely that another form of evil has arisen in the "L-brain" system supported by the rich and powerful people which has promoted the original evil in the first place.
To blame someone else while not including ourselves as part of the problem is irresponsible and will definitely not solve all the problems on a permanent basis. We have to remember that evil can neither be eliminated nor kept in a "box" for us to hide or control at will. Whether we like it or not, we all have the potential for evil. It is simply pointless to put an end to it simply because of this inherent potential in all of us and how it can appear anywhere and at anytime.
The only way we can deal with evil is by patiently understanding what has contributed to the evil in the first place and then solving the problem by ensuring everyone learns and changes to a third and more balanced way of doing things. In that way the evil is kept in its place.
An Associated Press photographer took this disturbing picture on Tuesday 5 February 2002 of male youths fighting one another over ethnic differences in the impoverished northern neighbourhoods of Idi Araba and Mushin in Lagos, Nigeria. Shown here is one male youth from the mainly Muslim Hausa community striking and killing with a sword a suspected Yoruba (mostly Christian) militant. Why are males still fighting when it is extremely rare to see such fighting among women? How do males think that causes these problems to exist in the world today? Source: Thousands flee as ethnic clashes grip Nigeria: The Canberra Times, 6 February 2002, p.9. Picture from SAURABH DAS/AP.
Or there is also, of course, theft and other forms of less serious crime that may be used as an alternative avenue for fighting against the hard, mechanistic "L-brain" nature of western society.
Or people may decide not to fight at all, but rather become depressed and eventually end their lives prematurely simply because they cannot see a future that is creative, emotional, stable, predictable, loving and has true meaning, and one that will support them properly in these difficult and changing times. For example, in the article entitled, Helping to save young lives, published on page 7 of The Canberra Times dated 8 April 2000:
"SYDNEY: Ten young Australians take their own lives each week and more than 1000 try, a new program aimed at reducing youth suicides highlighted yesterday....
'"As a community we need to address the contributing factors to youth suicide, such as depression and mental illness, which lead some of our children into such despair," he [Acting Opposition youth affairs spokesman Anthony Albanese] said."
According to recent statistics for the 1996 to 1997 period published in Productivity Commission, Report on Government Services 1999, Volume 1, the major cause of death for both sexes aged between 15 and 24 was suicide. In fact, young people are more likely to commit suicide more than any other age group. In 1997, the Australian national average for suicide was 14.7 deaths per 100,000 population compared to 20.6 suicides per 100,000 population for the 15 to 24 years age group, and is said to be an increase of 8 per cent from the previous year. (12)
Or perhaps these people will do a combination of the two: both kill and commit suicide at the same time as we see in the Middle East where L-brain Palestinians become suicide bombers against the L-brain Israelites.
Then there are those people who may become apathetic towards a L-brain society. They include the chronic gamblers who constantly believe that one day they can show their worth to others by winning a lottery game or go out and play the pokies on their own or with a small group of like-minded people on a regular basis until finally they have waste away their life savings and those of other people close to them as well. They can also include the constantly cynical people in our society.
Welcome to the L-brain world!
In such a mechanistic L-brain world-view, it should come as no surprise to find a growing number of individuals and groups feeling increasingly more alienated and/or disenchanted with modern "westernised" society. They feel the pace and stress of life in a competitive L-brain dominant world is too great, and they are being treated as 'cogs in a giant machine' or lifeless matter designed only to quickly adapt and solve problems for the few rich and highly L-brain people in society, and often in the face of little or no support. It is a world where people are told to do exactly as they are told or else face denial of support and eventually be ostracised from the rest of the L-brain society. It is a system devoid of emotions and creativity where cogs can be bought and sold, discarded and replaced at will without affecting the engine of society.
It would appear the best way to deal with the uncreative L-brain nature of Western society is for people to move towards the more creative and relaxing therapies such as visiting art galleries and trendy restaurants, doing creative writing and drama, attending drawing workshops and experiencing yoga.
As for the unemotional nature of Western society, psychologists have developed Emotionally Focused Therapy as a way of helping people to focus on their feelings and how to experience and express them.
It is either that, or more and more people are turning to quick and unsafe sex (with virtually no time for developing a relationship) as the most effective way of enhancing human emotions and creativity. An example of a place where people are prepared to engage in sex and no relationships can be found at places such as rudester.com and others. NOTE: Most sites are a scam, where women are paid to get men to pay a subscription on the false pretence they would chat and/or meet the women when, in fact, they won't. One alleged example of this can be found at Scambook.com through a place called xdating.com. In other situations, telling the support emails of some of these sites to close an account can be ignored in favour of receiving more of your subscription payments.
However, as some published statistics reported in The Times of London has indicated, the number of new cases of sexually transmitted diseases like Chlamydia and gonorrhea is doubling every 5 years or so in Britain. (13)
Surgeon General David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D., is also seeing a similar trend in the number of official cases of sexually transmitted diseases being reported in the United States after conducting his research on the state of sexual health in America in mid-2001. In his report, he believes the problem is so serious that it has almost reached "epidemic proportions among some adolescent populations". As Michael W. Ross, Ph.D., and staff of the popular US-based Psychology Today stated on page 58:
"An estimated 45 million people in the U.S. are infected with genital herpes, and 1 million new cases occur every year. Sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates in the U.S. are the highest in the developed world. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are approaching epidemic proportions among some adolescent populations, and one in five sexually active adults may be infected with genital herpes. Education is critical, as if breaking the chains of transmission through abstinence, condom use or screening and treatment. Silence is unacceptable." (14)
But people should not have to visit a psychologist to reestablish lost emotions and creativity except for the most serious cases. Nor should people have to suffer health problems through unsafe sex. People should be able to develop and express their own feelings and creativity naturally by letting people have more time on their own to relax and think for themselves how to achieve something.
As the article Downsizing survivors keep jobs but not health: study published on page 11 of The Canberra Times (8 April 2000) stated:
"LONDON, Friday: Downsizing might be just the thing to boost company profits but the streamlining exercise made employees sick, Finnish psychologists said today.
'"Downsizing, this reduction of personnel, seems to affect very clearly the health of those who remain in the organisation," Dr Mika Kivimaki, of the University of Helsinki, said.
'Increased work loads, a smaller role in decision making, job insecurity, changes in social relationships and increases in smoking all sapped the health of the people who still had jobs.
'Dr Kivimaki's findings are based on a study of 764 employees who survived a big reduction of the municipal payroll in the Finnish town of Raisio.
'The psychologists examined medical and absentee records and found, "The absentee rate was twice as high in downsized groups than in those where there was no downsizing," Dr Kivimaki said."
Can society afford the costs of forcing people to live in a L-brain society?
Our L-brain society has truly come unstuck. It has come to believe in the idea that only continuous change, speed, competitiveness, verbal communication and money are the keys to survival while treating people as just another resource to do as we please, to get things done quickly and expect results, and often to get ahead of the competition and make more money (15). But if proper support is not there, such as sufficient time and adequate rest to help develop the R-brain and our emotions, we could expect the brain of an adult (or especially our vulnerable children) to experience potentially serious and permanent neural damage. Or else face other dire social consequences.
Still not convinced? Here is another example:
"OTTAWA, Friday: A male student shouting "I'm...going to kill you" stabbed four students and a secretary at a suburban Ottawa high school today, a year to the day after the Columbine High School massacre in the United States.
'...The attacker's motive was unknown but one student hinted at a possible cause for the attack.
'The student said, "I know him quite well. I think a lot of people were making fun of him because he has problems, a lot of problems....I didn't think he'd do that."
'Another pupil said the attacker had "a lot of problems" and had regularly been mocked by other students." (16)
Is war and spending money on Defence the answer to all our L-brain problems?
As another example, suppose this disturbed young Canadian man grew up as a strong communicator and other L-brain abilities. He may even become a popular politician and perhaps a great military man (to show his belief in violence as the prime mechanism for solving social problems) in his own country. He may also have the shrewd business and social skills to be able to convince his people to join the army and/or build great quantities of deadly killing machines for his military force in a short space of time.
Now let us imagine what this person might do if, for any reason, the people of Canada were to be socially and economic oppressed by other nations, whoever they may be and for whatever reason, guess who would solve the problem? Yes, the disturbed young man. It would be World War II all over again. Except that next time, it will not be with guns and hand-to-hand combat, but with more efficient and deadlier weapons of mass-destruction like nuclear bombs, and chemical and biological warfare agents! (17)
Doesn't this sound familiar to you? If it doesn't, then you may need to read your history books. Because this is exactly the factor that caused Adolf Hitler in Germany to start World War II. (18)
So what is the L-brain solution to this L-brain problem? We spend more money on security and defence while still maintaining our way of doing things, and then we use fire against fire in the worse case scenario where we fight with other countries until one country, the other, or both are destroyed.
Later, when the war is finally over and we have killed off enough people to ensure the remaining survivors live comfortably again, we will probably continue to use our L-brain thinking and actions as if this is the correct way of doing everything until we start another world war again in the future!
Still not convinced? Then read this newspaper article entitled US military to get an extra $94 billion for the war against terrorism. And now on 10 May 2002, the US House of Representatives has approved the biggest increase in military spending in decades with US$383 billion (A$707 billion) going to the 2003 US Defence budget to help the fight against terrorism. (19)
In other words, the US military and their frontline puppet known as the US government believe increasing military defence spending is the solution to all our L-brain problems. And for how long?
Fortunately there are some people who can see through the L-brain madness. As former Australian Labor prime minister Paul Keating said after hearing of news of an impending invasion of Iraq and other US terror objectives:
"The US may think that it can exist like a gated community behind the golden paddock of national missile defence, with a military able to strike out at offenders in a Mad Max world left outside, but that will not secure its people and it will certainly not secure us [the Australian people]." (20)
And as Robert G. Doumar, the US District Judge presiding over the case of how long suspected war prisoners of the Afghanistan war should be held in US military camps, said:
"Will the war never be over as long as there is any...person that may feel they want to attack the United States of America or the citizens of the United States of America?" (21)
The Judge has ordered the US Administration to explain why an American-born man is being held a prisoner in his own country after being captured with Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.
The only truly permanent and effective "defence system" for dealing with the threat of war, theft, violence, terrorism and other problems created by a L-brain system is not to prepare for war by increasing a nation's military defence budgets; to increase security by raising fences against outside offenders; to strike out at offenders who may come crashing through the security gates; to add more legislation to an already burgeoning legal system as a means of threatening people to do the right thing; or to even increase the number of officers in law enforcement agencies in an attempt to stop people from doing what they are naturally forced to do as part of their survival. Rather we should all learn to open up our hearts to all people, to understand the common needs of everyone, and to increase spending in the right social and environmental areas to ensure those needs are met. And in return, people will give back to society many times over their own and proper form of love as people achieve what they believe will make this world a better place to live.
Even if leaders of other countries should experience their own L-brain problems and want us to help them solve it through their own ideas of what the solution should be, we should not offer them all that they ask if the solution is still a L-brain one. We must decide for ourselves what is the best and most balanced solution for the people of all countries. And that may mean doing things like not going to war, or to participate in military exercises and projects that involve other countries. Instead, we can choose to offer our expertise in improving the social and environmental infrastructure of any nation in need, including those of our enemies.
For example, it certainly doesn't make Australia a great nation in the eyes of everyone by producing a report at the Department of Foreign Affairs saying this country or that country is more important and therefore should be considered of highest national interest. Even if it does not articulate the order in which those countries are given highest priority, the mere fact that the report goes to the trouble of mentioning only a few countries out of a total of over 150 countries of interest to Australia suggests it is only thinking about itself and those few countries who have something to offer Australia.
We have to think much more globally than this if we are to guarantee the security of all nations. To survive properly and to be truly secure for the long-term, we have to think about all countries and not just ourselves. That means we must show the same level of love and responsibility to everyone.
Why? Because things have a habit of coming back to us in the same way we give to the world. So help others to feel secure, and you will be genuinely secure. Help others with their needs, and your needs will be genuinely met. Help others to be happy, and you will be genuinely happy.
In essence, love others and you will be loved. The more we can develop the same level of security, happiness and love in others as we do for ourselves, the more secure, happy and loving we all become. If we don't do this for everyone, we will definitely experience many more of the negative consequences arising from such simple things like poverty hitting the rich nations of the world.
World Trade Organisation president Michael Moore would agree with this view when he said to world leaders at the global summit on development financing at Monterrey, Mexico, on 22 March 2002:
"[Poverty is] the greatest single threat to peace, security, democracy, human rights and the environment." (22)
We need to think about the future and not just our past, and in a more balanced way than ever before
As many of our War Veterans would say, "Lest we forget, especially those who died during the great wars". (23)
Well yes, but what exactly have we learnt after all the fighting in the past? Today we are still giving preferential treatment to certain individuals and countries in the same old L-brain kind of way even as we speak, and some of the people receiving the worse end of this treatment are now learning that they are not important as if they are the real enemy at war and that violence is an acceptable avenue for solving the problem. If we are not too careful in how we think and apply ourselves when creating and developing our society, someone in the near future could start World War III if that person does not end up in a mental institution or prison.
And if World War III starts, don't expect humankind to be around much longer given our level of technology and the shear number of people on this planet.
Can we really afford not to support every human being properly and in a balanced way? Mental illness, suicide, apathy, ignorance, and world conflict, certainly does not have to be accepted as a "normal" part of living in the 21st century and beyond simply because we choose to think and behave in a more L-brain kind of way! (24)
L-brain problems in everyday human relationships
Yes, L-brain thinking is everywhere.
For example, have you ever felt like your partner is constantly nagging at you because he/she cannot control you or mould you in the way he/she wants you to be? Or do you feel your partner is ignoring you all the time because he/she cannot see your value to society or understand the way you think or what you are trying to achieve for everyone?
Or perhaps you're in one of those relationships where you feel like your partner is just like you in how you think and believe and therefore everything in your world seems as you expect and logical from your perspective, yet you get the feeling that you are always caught in the same type of unwanted "merry-go-round" or negative circumstances which you don't want to be?
Or sometimes your L-brain partner can be highly sensitive to things that are out-of-order. For example, you may find yourself in a relationship where you are constantly cleaning and maintaining the home, or you have to be at a certain place at a certain time on a fairly regular basis, simply because the partner feels it is important to do so or else make your partner very upset in the process. Although this may make it easier for your L-brain partner, it can create unnecessary tension for someone who is a more balanced or R-brain person.
The conflicts we create in our relationships and/or environment is due to our L-brain working excessively harder than usual and is picking up differences and highlighting the negative aspects of those differences as well as keeping us where we think and believe the idea of balance should lie.
Even if you have someone else to help you, it is likely you will never find a quality or balanced solution to your problem. Eventually you may resign yourself into believing you will always be where you are today because of your beliefs and those of your "similar thinking" partner, or you may decide to fight because your L-brain partner does not seem to see your point-of-view. (25)
Start supporting your fellow human beings, and all problems of the world will disappear
To solve this L-brain problem, we need to give people time on their own (and with some help from more balanced people in society in a positive manner when needed) to solve problems constructively and in a balanced way, and to better appreciate the value of other people and what they can contribute to society.
To put it succinctly, we need to support everyone for what they are trying to achieve for the good of all.
Yes, but some L-brain people may argue that if people continue to struggle to solve problems, they will eventually force their R-side or L-side of the brain to deal with the issues. So over time, both sides of the brain may be eventually used. But it is a big risk, and a very costly one indeed for society. If we don't train people to properly use both sides of the brain in early life and/or give sufficient time and other resources to do a quality work, then the sudden influx of information flowing between the left- and right-side of the brain as it tries to balance itself and find a solution could cause irreparable damage to the corpus callosum. Or else spawn a very long "L-brain" cycle of negative social unrest and violence in modern society.
The solution to all world problems is both an environmental and individual thing
The individual changing him/herself is not enough when solving all these L-brain problems. We hear experts say it is all in the mind. Well yes to a certain extent. But our thinking has also created changes to our environment, and this is influencing our children to think and act in the same L-brain way.
It is not just the individual who is creating the problems, it is the way the environment of modern society is at the moment which is playing just as much a significant role in the development of the human mind and its way of thinking and creating problems in the world as do the genetic and personal choices individuals make.
Therefore, the responsibility lies not just squarely at the individual, but also at the feet of society as well.
Is it our mind or the environment which is causing all the world problems we see around us? Some people will argue endlessly about how our brain creates all the problems of the world. You will also find people arguing in support of the opposite belief that our environment in its current form is creating all the problems of the world.
This is the proverbial "chicken-and-the-egg" story. Avoid having to be placed in the situation of choosing whether the egg came first or the chicken. Try to find a solution that combines the best of both views.
In other words, we just need to carefully develop the brain and set up the supportive environment for effective learning and problem-solving, and then we will create the most wonderful harmonious balance we need to think, feel and behave appropriately. Then all the problems of the world will disappear.
How do we change to a more balanced approach?
If we are to ever solve a problem like mental illness (and literally all other world problems), there has to be a major change in the way we approach the task of problem-solving (i.e. surviving, working, learning, helping others etc) on an individual, society and global level in the 21st century and beyond.
On an individual level, it means changing our deep-seated beliefs acquired throughout our lifetime and over the centuries by previous mostly L-brain thinking generations to promote a more balanced approach to thinking and doing things. For example, instead of relying on money, apathy, ignorance, violence and/or suicide as the way out of the problem, we must constructively deal with the problem by (i) changing the way we see the world and everyone in it; and (ii) acting upon ourselves and our immediate environment. In that way we can create this new reality or world-view in the way that will bring a greater sense of balance to this world.
On a society level, it means we have to change the current "westernised" system of business, education, entertainment, general human interaction and in all other areas if every individual in society is to achieve a greater sense of meaning and balance in their lives for the good of all. For example, we have to seriously consider slowing the pace of Western society so that there is more time spent by every individual on thinking, resting and creating quality results.
On a global level, it means helping countries like never before to solve their social and environmental problems by working together while at the same time not interfering so much in an attempt to force people in all countries to assimilate into a L-brain world. All countries must be treated well and with equal importance, and at the same time allow each country to be independent. Finally, support the countries to achieve anything they believe will help the world become a more peaceful and balanced place to live. And again, the pace of Western society and other L-brain behaviours should be controlled.
This is quite natural. The Italian city of Rome, for instance, was not built in one day, so why should people be forced to learn and change in such a short period of time? Technology may help to speed things up, but people need time to think about what they are doing. Everything requires time to change. As the Greek Stoic philosopher of the 1st century A.D., Epictetus, once said:
"No great thing is created suddenly, any more than is a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be time. Let it first bloom, then become a fruit, then ripen." (26)
Nothing stays the same forever. Change is inevitable. But too much change in a short space of time can cause a growing number of people to lose sight of where they are going. Many people need to know that what they are doing or will do in the near future will benefit everyone and all living things and not just for a few people.
We change because we know it will promote greater stability. More change just for the sake of change is simply not on.
And all this again involves changing the beliefs of an entire L-brain society to something that is better, more accurate and stable for the 21st century and beyond (i.e. a more balanced state).