We Assume Too Much And Pay Dearly For It

We Assume Too Much And Pay Dearly For It

All the evidence that we have indicates that it is reasonable to assume in practically every human being, and certainly in almost every newborn baby, that there is an active will toward health, an impulse towards growth, or towards the actualization.
– Abraham Maslow, American professor of psychology, creator of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (1908-1970)

We assume. We assume. We assume.

We can’t get through life without making assumptions that certain things will remain in order, that there is a structure of life and matter that won’t suddenly change on us, that someone won’t stab us in the back when we aren’t paying attention.

We require those assumptions in order that we can carry on our lives and concentrate on the business at hand. Of course life–indeed, existence–does not follow our need for assumptions that things won’t change on us too dramatically. Nature, like luck, can be brutal.

Japan studied its seismic history and since the 1970s built structures to last, based on earthquakes that had affected the country in the previous 400 years. For the most part, modern buildings survived the 9.0 quake of 2011. However, protective seawalls were overwhelmed and 20,000 people lost their lives in the tsunami that followed. The 9.0 earthquake, among the strongest in modern history, follows a pattern that only strikes about every 1000 years.

The Japanese government assumed that studying 400 years of history was enough. Not enough to account for a cycle of at least 1000 years.

We assume, those of us who marry, that “till death us do part” means forever, that our partner will never leave. We do not assume that the commitment means that both parties must work to maintain the relationship every single day or it will fall apart. We assume it’s a forever commitment, at least on the part of the other person in the relationship.

We assume that “for better or for worse” are only words, that the “worse” part won’t be any worse than it was before the wedding. When the relationship is required to endure a whole lot worse than that, trouble starts.

We assume that sex with our partner will be as gratifying and as fulfilling–maybe even improve with experience through the years–as it was before the wedding. The sex drive can be impacted for many reasons, both internal and external. The partner who is not affected–needing more–looks for satisfaction elsewhere. The partner who is affected assumes the relationship will continue, unaffected, because of a commitment of a few words spoken during a ceremony. The vows say nothing about sexual commitment.

We buy food at a market assuming that it will be tested safe. Chemical fertilizers, pesticides and preservatives in all foods have been shown to be unsafe for health over a long term. Fresh produce, advised by all health professionals to be the healthiest foods of all, are heavily laced with chemicals, even preservatives to keep them from spoiling.

We assume that preservatives that keep our food from spoiling are safe. They are, for food sitting on a shelf. Inside our bodies they also preserve our food from decay, which is exactly the opposite of what we want. Our body detects whole fats and automatically stores them in fat cells. Result: obesity in people with efficient digestive systems, even if they do not overeat.

We assume that by visiting a medical doctor when we are not well, or even for a regular checkup when we feel well, the doctor will provide us with the best care. Yet some doctors take money from drug companies when they prescribe drugs from one of them. Some of the drugs, such as statins to counteract cholesterol, become lifelong commitments when there are safer and healthier alternatives available (including common mineral niacin and exercise).

We assume that what we wear and our cosmetics will enhance our status among our workmates or acquaintances, as we have been taught by commercial interests. In general, virtually no one cares what we look like, except maybe a boss if we dress inappropriately. We just believe that others care.

We assume that the vehicle we drive will somehow deliver a message to others that we have a personal value greater than we know we have. Again, no one else cares.

We assume that people we associate with often are friends. As soon as we have a serious problem, they are nowhere to be found. Casual friendships exist when people have something to gain by associating with us, or us with them. True friendships are hard to make, take years to build, and true friends don’t care about trivial matters and will stand with you through your worst troubles. Simply assuming that someone is a good friend may be plain wrong.

We assume that those who mean the most to us will be with us forever, so we take less care with them than with acquaintances who can help us in the short term. When those loved ones die, we aren’t prepared for the loss and often suffer ourselves as a consequence. We assumed they would be with us forever.

We assume that our religious leaders teach us facts and truths beyond reproach. Most is just fantasy or wishful thinking, sometimes even an effort to control our mind. Just examine the “truths” taught from the pulpits of various Christian denominations to learn how greatly they vary, though they all claim to use the same holy book.

We make countless assumptions to get us through our lives. Some help us to get through the day, or night. Every assumption has a consequence if something does not work the way we had assumed. If we don’t consider the consequences of our assumptions, we pay a price later.

Children should be taught about consequences of their assumptions. Risky behaviour, for example, could result in early death. Unwise behaviour in their youth will inevitably result in bad health in later years.

Who should teach this Law of Consequences? Parents? Teachers? Relatives? Neighbours? Friends?

Yes. Children who do not understand the Law of Consequences, who make assumptions that are unwise, suffer huge setbacks later, if they survive. We pass laws to protect children, then ignore the laws. Many parents are not aware of the laws that should guide them through parenthood. No one taught them how to be parents. They figured out the conceiving part themselves. The rest they guess and learn by accident (sometimes).

Every adult has a responsibility to each child he or she knows. The degree of responsibility will vary from one child to another. The need for commitment will not.

There is an old saying: it takes a village to raise a child. Our ancestors knew that. Today’s kids don’t have that village. We need to help them avoid the deficit. They need to learn. We need to teach.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a book for parents, teachers, for all adults, who want to help children grow to be responsible, to lead well balanced lives.
Learn more at http://billallin.com

Anne Frank’s Classmates Remember Holocaust and Days of Hiding

Anne Frank’s Classmates Remember Holocaust and Days of Hiding

“What we had was a ‘killing machine’–not just part of a normal war, but a killing machine. We shouldn’t forget this past, and we must remain informed about what’s happening today. What went on then should never happen again.” Nanette Blitz Konig, best friend of Anne Frank (p. 127)

“By the end of the war, I looked like a skeleton. My hip bones were poking through my skin. They weighed me when I’d already been in the sanatorium for a while, and I was thirty-two kilos, barely seventy pounds. So I must have weighed a lot less before.” Nanette Blitz Konig, who spent three years recovering in the sanatorium after her release in 1945 from Westerbork, a Nazi prison in The Netherlands (p. 132-3)

“The dates tell you that the children who arrived in Auschwitz and Sobibor [Nazi extermination camps] were gassed immediately.” Nanette Blitz Konig, viewing the plaque with the names and death dates of Jewish children (including that of Anne Frank) of the Montessori School (now named Anne Frank School) where she and Anne and many of their classmates went to school before they went into hiding or were murdered by the Nazis (p. 160)

“My freedom.” Nanette Blitz Konig, when asked by a twelve-year-old boy at the Anne Frank School, in 2008, what was the most cherished thing that had been taken from her as a Jew during the Second World War. (p. 163)

“The informers were paid [by the Nazis]; and sometimes it was a matter of carelessness on the part of those in hiding, or of those who were hiding them as well. In any event, many people were betrayed. One third seems to be the official figure, but I believe that half the Jews who went underground were betrayed.” Lenie Duyzend, another female classmate of Anne Frank (p. 180-1)

(All quotes from We All Wore Stars, Memories of Anne Frank from Her Classmates, by Theo Coster–also an Anne Frank classmate–English translation published by Palgrave MacMillan, 2011)

 

Those few excerpts from the book may help to fix in your mind the conditions under which millions of Jews in Nazi-dominated Europe managed to avoid death during the Holocaust. I say “avoid death” because even the word “survive” fails to give sufficient impact. Death by disease or starvation was common, even while the Jews were “free,” in hiding from the Nazi troops. Many did not manage to avoid death. Eighty percent of the Jews in The Netherlands before the war did not survive.

Of the ones who hid and were discovered, they were sent in railway freight cars to concentration camps. The cars were so crowded that individuals had no room to sit down. Some literally died en route, of disease or starvation. Those who were not fit to help the Nazis in some way, while in the camps, were told they were to take showers to clean up the lice and filth that most had accumulated. The showers emitted not water, but lethal gas.

Why, I wondered when I was younger, did so many go peacefully rather than fighting to the death after they were captured? They were starving, they believed that if they were sent to “work camps” they at least would be fed. They didn’t mind working if they would be fed. Most didn’t work. They didn’t live long enough to need to be fed.

They believed the “showers” would not only cleanse their skin, but they were told that a mild chemical would rid them of lice and parasites. The “showers” were to be a privilege.

They believed. They died. Six million of them. The number is doubted today only by Holocaust deniers and doubters.

Seventy years later, many of us have lost the message. Today we have more Jew haters than in past decades. Why? Because those who hated the Jews before and during the Holocaust continued to hate them after the war was over. And, like the Nazis who invented modern day propaganda methods, they continued to spread their word, relentlessly.

I recently defriended a man on Facebook. While he was a marvelous resource for anti-establishment “facts” and video materials, he was also rabidly anti-Jewish. Anything done in Palestine he could justify in some way, whereas anything done by Israel he could “prove” was evil. He posted between one and five anti-Israel or anti-Jew Facebook items every day. He had 4000 Facebook “friends.” Read: followers of his propaganda.

Today we have the endless conflict between Israel and Palestine that tires many of us so much that we want to ignore it. What many don’t realize is that Palestinians, who wanted independence from their former masters Jordan and Egypt for at least a century, not only lost the war (they supported Germany), they also lost what they had hoped for so long would be a free Palestine.

When the state of Israel was created after the war, from land taken from countries that supported the losing side (Germany, home of the Holocaust), Palestinians refused to  give up their fight. Where previously Palestinians and Jews had lived peacefully, side by side, in Palestine, when the Jews succeeded in getting international support for the creation of Israel while the Arab Palestinians failed to get their own official homeland, the Palestinians vowed to never forget or give up their fight.

Palestinians, in general, may not be as well educated as the average Israeli. But they learned their lessons about propaganda from their German allies. They learned how to manipulate the media. They learned how to lie, repeatedly and consistently, until eventually enough people believe the lies. That’s what propaganda does, as demonstrated so well in the 1930s by Hitler’s buddy Goebbels, the master propagandist.

Israel learned too, but from the Roman empire, not from modern day militaries. Israel learned that when an enemy hurts you, you should hurt your enemy back ten times as hard as it hurt you. That’s how Israel has responded to attacks from Gaza and the West Bank.

Such principles of fighting back do not fit with modern morals and ethics. Hitting back with far more force than you were hit with makes you a bully today. Palestine tries to make Israel come off in the media like a powerful bully. It’s working. Blogs and social media give anti-Israeli propagandists free reign. White supremacists of the past have become anti-Israeli heroes of present day, in the eyes of some people.

The most important key to successful propaganda is to say your message with confidence. Truth is not important (in fact, lies are the preferred content of propaganda), so long as the message is delivered with confidence and determination. In propaganda, you never admit your own mistakes or weaknesses, you always blame your opponent for what you did wrong and you usually accuse your opponent of using the same dirty tactics as you use yourself. The whole US experience in Iraq is an excellent example.

Please, when you think about Israel today, remember that Jews have survived many extermination attempts over the past three millennia in which they have been denied a land of their own (the Holocaust was but one). How might you expect today’s Israelis to act when they finally got a country to call their own? How would you react if six million of your culture mates were gassed while millions of others were starved and abused?

Israel has acted badly, by modern standards, no doubt. Call it brutal. But is the answer to disenfranchise Israel? Bullying of other kinds has not been stopped by putting the bullies in jail. In fact, jail and punishment of other kinds of bullies have created more bullying than they have solved or prevented.

When enemies face each other as enemies, peace will never happen at the table. Only when they face each other as similar peoples with common interests is there any chance for peace.

Jews and Arabs are both Semitic peoples. Each is a collection of various tribes of the past. Wherever tribal customs, traditions and mores of the past continue today you will find conflict. Check out where conflict is happening in the world today and which maintain tribal values and you will find an almost perfect coincidence.

Not all Israelis subscribe to tribal values, but there are enough strong minded purists to influence their government. Not all Arabs, or even Palestinians, subscribe to the old tribal values, but there are enough that peace talks always mean enemy facing enemy across the negotiating table.

Whenever political representatives face each other as being “different” peace cannot be achieved. Only when they face each other as being the same people, only with different opinions that need to be resolved, will there be a viable possibility for peace.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a book for teachers and parents about how to raise children who can cope in today’s complicated modern world. It’s a book about commonalities, not about differences, which is why it works. Learn more at http://billallin.com