Monday, July 9, 2012

Generosity, debt, character and addiction.

 If you give a child a toy they believe it is their toy.
Sociologists and social psychologists have shown that some cultures have only this level of development.  They may say they 'find' things and that they only 'use' them but at some level they have what is 'theirs' and will 'fight' to keep what is theirs.
It's like taking the toy back from a child.  They are glad to receive but they are unwilling to share.
Psychopaths take but don't give except in a self serving way.
Sharing is a developmental stage in individuals and cultures.

Taking and not giving, speaks to entitlement and is central in characterological disorders.
 Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.  Don't do to others what you would not have done to yourself.
This is central in all advanced cultures and reflects personal characterological development.
Intellectuals with tenure are happy to talk theoretically about everything but mostly want their holiday pay increased. In the real world there's all manner of basic behaviour which speaks to the differential development of individuals and groups.

In recent years there's significant work well beyond the 'survival of the fittest' ,in the 'cooperative behaviour' and the very community qualities that allow for advancement in societies.
Seligman's research into positive 'character traits' show that the capacity to forgive as opposed to vengeance is a quality that can grow with maturity and reduce the tendency to destruction.

Laws with consequences are developed to help those who only do what is right because they can be 'hurt' if they don't. At the highest level of development people and even cultures will do what is 'right' because it is best for all in the long run and even the short run.  Altruism is seen in Bill Gates now and may yet be true of Zuckerman though the story of Duddy Kravitz makes potential late comers to the world of community open to question.  The Mafia would commonly consolidate their holdings then give to churches and hospitals late in life if only in hope of legitimizing themselves.

Without money there are barter systems and people 'exchange' with a view to sharing fairly.  Niall Ferguson in his book Ascent of Moneyt shows the history of the development of not only exhange but loans and risk management.

Today if I loan you $10 you pay me back $10 as a friend. If I loan as a bank you pay me back $10 plus interest.
Still there are those who have not got beyond diapers and don't pay back especially within the period of time allotted.

When this occurs it's worthwhile to consider addiction as an explanation.  Addicts, alcoholics, gamblers especially, debtors commonly, shopaholics, all are very good at 'taking' and 'borrowing' but are very bad at 'repaying'.
The world has a 'bankruptcy' provision but before these individuals may go financially bankrupt they go spiritually bankrupt, becoming increasingly ego driven rather than be a giving part of community and acting as they would have others act to them.

Sociopaths are those who have rules of behaviour within a gang, such as thou shalt not steal from a gang member, but it's okay to steal from a non gang member.  They're a primitive tribal society and lack the capacity for success on their own but succeed as parasites on the body of real culture and real society.  When they are put in jails with other gang members all they want to do is get away from each other because they do not like the codes they live by when they lack a "host" or "innoscent", someone who is whole and can survive, even thrive,  in community according to social laws. That's what makes sociopaths like viruses, they can't succeed alone.. They lack the basic material to exist or survive on their own whereas without them the main stream culture would succeed regardless.

Developmentally they have never left the teat  from a psychiatric perspective demanding that Mommy feed them for free long after the normal breast feeding period of culturally maximally 2 years.  Lacking some developmental capacity or as a product of the psychological regression caused by addictive behaviours they make everything a teat especially society.

It's not unique to any culture. Even mother birds can be seen to push babies out of the nest to make them fly, the last one leaving long after the others have left through interest or maturity. Toughlove was developped as a term to describe the parenting and social response appropriate to these individuals who are described as lacking a 'conscience'.

Historically society has separated those who 'can't care for themselves', ie the sick, from those who 'won't care fro themselves'.  Drug addiction and personality disorders are interesting in that they straddle these two traditional paradigms.

A colleague who is famous as a cultural psychiatrist was a prisoner and survived the Pol Pot. He was fascinated that the terrorists controlled the people's food and without food so many who at first 'couldn't' or 'wouldn't' did.  Victor Frankl,the famous psychiatrist who survived the Nazi death camps described how people of character were unaffected by the worst abuses, their character strengths surviving despite abuse.  Victor Frankl saw the Jobs of the world as well as those who could not rise above their inadequacy.
Interestingly as a consequence of both observations by psychiatrists in the worst situations we can learn that individuals who have 'developed' characterologically and become more spiritually advanced don't lose this under duress. Similiarly those who wouldn't work under normal conditions will work or contribute or share, would under duress.  The latter is a well recognised but often forgetten fact that has resulted in the term 'enabling' in relationship to the 'bleeding heart' 'liberal left' 'society as mommy's teat' approach which rewards people with all manner of gifts for no product.

These 'players' and 'takers' were the subject of the book "Culture of Narcissism" predicting a future group of consumers who had lost their capacity for citizenship being like the "Hollow Men" of T.S. Elliott.
Necessity is well recognised as the mother of invention and genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.  That said, there's a fine line one has to walk in regards to providing 'support' and reward for progress as compared to rewarding poor behaviour.
The fact is individuals, myself included , seem to need a combination of carrot and stick.  Where along the line does that 'sweet spot' between the two fall for a society.
I certainly don't think our present society is helping addicts by giving them 'money' to feed their addiction.  At the same time I don't think society should function only on the basis of a 'stick' and the 'carrot' should be a healthy sustaining vegetable at least.

Developmentally we need to look at individuals and cultures. The United Nations was funded for years.  it's come out with a number of statements about ethics, morality and measures of cultural development which seem little used as there is a tendency to say everything is equal.  A killing raping pillaging culture is not equal to one that does not murder, steal and rape.  I look to the United Nations for 'agreements' but instead have found that more often than not it's just a lot of priviledged voices of self interest.  The World Health Organization by contrast has impressed me by it's development of standards for all and aggreements.  There has been forward progress in international courts as well.

But here locally there seems to be continued support for poor behaviour rather than resources being specifically given to those who are making forward progress in what are clearly aggreed levels of development.

Individually there are alot of examples of errors in this regard. One that comes to mind is the society which only gives support to those who are in need after they have exhausted their resources.  So the elderly who saved and cared for their future may suddenly be expected to use up their personal resources whereas another who never saved gets equal access to nursing home services.

This kind of situation occurs with a variety of 'government' services and the refusal to be real about resource management.  As a doctor I am held accountable for not referring a person to a specialist yet that person doesn't keep their appointments and a specialist might refuse to see other patients from my practice if my patients don't keep their appointments. Specialists in my area only get paid if the patient shows up for an appointment.

I can then be criticized for 'profiling' or 'discrimination' if I send my patient who doesn't keep appointments by evidence to the general clinic which has a year waitlist.
Resource management is like money in this sense.  Who do we 'loan' it too and what obligation do we expect of those who are happy enough to 'take' money but don't return it. Not only is t his an issue on the individual scale it's also an issue in the banking and business world. Our very 'systems' are archaic relative to what we know today about these matters.

I must become more self caring in my generosity.  the Bible encourages us to give more to those who plant the seeds well. Not surprisingly Carengie, Rockerfeller and finally even Johnny Come Lately Warren Buffet have seen the reward of philanthropism but Oprah would argue  but that they should give to those who most produce.  Donald Trump is painful but true in his rewarding those who are productive.  Society is upside down in this regard now literally rewarding bad behaviour and poor outcomes in a variety of ways, most ostensibly the recent bank crisis where CEO's were given raises for losing the stockholders money.

It comes down to this issue of Love thy neighbour as thyself really.  Loving is not 'feeding' as an obese America is dying from a gluttony of excess.  In 12 step programs they say "carry the message', "not the person'.  I have to remember that addiction club houses commonly have signs 'no lending or borrowing' .  Lending and borrowing might well be something that needs to be left to the professionals like "suicidal and homicidal behaviour."  Families and friends no longer have the means to address those individuals who renege on agreements, the courts are unweildy in this regard and the alternative is selling such debts to 'gangs'.

My own experience with lending is that the people I've lent to haven't in general paid back whereas I've paid all my debts and don't borrow in an 'unsecured' way.  Yet I've lent money in an 'unsecured' way.  There are simply too many immature people and addicts, psychopaths and sociopaths out there. Yet the sun shines on all and if we are to be like the 'sun' then we need to consider this in the equation of lending and borrowing.

Never lend more than you can afford to lose.
Never borrow more than you can afford to pay back.
Never lend to addicts.  That's my new rule but I've had this one in the list before and wonder why I come back round to this one.

In 12 step programs people are expected to pay back what they have taken financially.  It's part of the program of recovery. Making amends.  Also increasingly the courts are finding that 'community service' is a way of making amends.  People who owed money but couldn't pay historically worked as 'servants' to pay off their debts.  This 'indentured' labour' was a good thing when it was limitted to smaller amounts. It got out of hand and was abused when instead of a year of work it was extended into years of work.  Perhaps different systems should be considered rather than the simple Crime Family solution of taking a finger or a knee cap.

Indeed an eye for an eye was the first law of 'mercy' not justice. Justice was considered that you hurt me by not repaying your debt so I could wipe out your village. An eye for an eye was the beginning law of commerce.  You return what you take.  The Yakuza had a system that said that a person who offended the boss by not paying the money they owed would send a little finger as recognition of the indebtedness and a promise to pay. This was clarification of  the debtor knowing that they had hurt the lendor and without such a system the lender could well extract what he 'felt' was the payment.

The Revenue Canada Service and the IRS have their ways of getting their debts met.

Historically a person's word was his 'name' but today that's not as powerful a determinant as it once was.  The internet has been a place were various 'criminal's have been listed, so that pedophile lists exist and possibly society will not so much need a 'credit' rating but a history of 'bad credit' individuals.

It's not 'multi culturalism alone but multiculturalism has been faulted for being 'cultureless' since there are by nature cultures that are higher and those that are lower.  Cultures aren't all equal.  Neither are people.  It's where the rubber hits the road that the differences arise.

I'm struggling with this because people who are generous are considered merely 'marks' by drug addicts and gang members as parasites and hosts have no difficulty sucking the life out of them before moving onto their next victim.

I enjoyed the television series Jericho because it addressed these same ideas at a higher level than the almost equally enjoyable Sons of Anarchy television series which addressed issues of ethics and morality in gangs as opposed to whole self sufficient communities. Gangs as I've already said have the cultural life of parasites or virus despite having inherrently attractive features like the historic 'noble savage' or the baby faces of members.

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