Document 412N
Copyright (c) Jan M. Cox, 1988
I recently read something (just remember, I make everything up) about the battle between environment and heredity. Of course, the way I have often expressed this to you is very simple: In the battle between heredity and environment, there IS no battle, because there is no "environment." The whole issue is just something Life has foisted on humanity. But, even if you think you understand this, you can get stuck in examples such as the one I read.

 The basis of the article was something like, "Shyness in children may in fact be partly hereditary, BUT, the behavior of the child's parents may contribute to the original tendency toward shyness." How's that for a conundrum? Two decades ago they believed shyness (or other particular forms of behavior) was entirely due to environmental influences. Now, they're seeing a hormonal basis for it. But they protect both bases: they say the REAL reality of "shyness" is a little of that and a little of this -- a little environment, a little heredity.

 This subject is primo. City scientists now actually think shyness in children may very likely be genetic. They believe genetic variables may actually contribute to characteristics such as shyness -- but that still doesn't let the parents off the hook. Because the parents' behavior can contribute to the problem, to the genetic tendency. So we have both, right? To ordinary consciousness, this seems true.

 Okay, I'll try to make this example a little less sticky. After all, these professionals must know what they're talking about, right? See if you can get a glimpse of what's actually going on. You have Life in one of its parts (the parents) believing it can demand of itself either the ability, or at least the willingness, to alter its own unalterable, genetic destiny so as to alter the environment for another part of Life's body (i.e., children). Think about this for a second. Just look at the parts you can see for yourself in this fullness of which human life is a part -- in what I've called "Life's body."

 Life is demanding of one of these parts -- parents -- that they attempt to change (or at least believe they should and could change). Life is demanding that these parts alter their own genetic, HEREDITARY destiny, so as to apparently alter the ENVIRONMENT out there for another part of Life's body -- in this case, children. Considering both parts I'm describing, do you see how interesting this is?

 Notice that what's demanded doesn't even include the parents changing THEMSELVES. There's no question of the parents changing for themselves, for their own "selfish" reasons. The whole deal is that the parents (who can't change themselves) are responsible for changing just enough to affect the (also unchangeable) destiny of the children. The parents are responsible for their CHILDREN. Nobody says, "Hey, what are you doing trying to be responsible for someone else -- take care of your own life first." Oh, no. The deal is: "Be responsible for behavior which allows ANOTHER part of Life to change."

 Remember something I once told you: There has to be a gap in the machinery of Life or nothing would move. Can you see, on a larger scale, that Life must leave this gap? Try this: "Hey, I can't change. But I CAN change someone else." Remember, if you believed you couldn't do anything at all -- couldn't change anything -- we'd still be back in the caves watching TV by candlelight.

 Of course, the belief that you can change comes out in Life in all sorts of ways. And you continually make excuses like, "My genes made me do it," or, alternatively, "My environment made me do it." Well, SOMETHING made me do it.

 Remember, while considering the example I gave, that Time is the backdrop to this. Also remember that all this is happening within one organism -- Life. Life made the statement: "Shyness may be inborn, but parents still have input because family stresses may accentuate shyness." The doctors look at the kid and say, "Yeah, this kid is shy." In the recent past, everyone believed everything about their so-called personality was due to what their parents did to them during their formative years. But now things have progressed. Someone came along and said, "Don't blame yourself, parents, don't hang yourself up by your privates. We have evidence that SOME of this shyness may be inborn!"

 Clean slate: some of it may not be your fault. But, you're not relieved of all responsibility. You still have to produce a good, loving environment, or you could make all these inborn traits worse. The way things are arranged, it's sort of like saying to the parents, "You didn't have any input to start with, but from here on out we're going to hold you responsible."

 So the First Story is: "You're not responsible." The second story is: "Those inborn, genetic traits can be affected by you from here on out, so watch it." Can you begin to glimpse the economy Life is using to make things operate as they do in this case? This is an example of something that apparently happens to individuals, to parents, but on a larger scale it's an example of an almost perfect First Story. It sounds just right. It's so good, it makes ME sound wrong, because Life's First Story sounds better intellectually. I just say, "There is no environment." But Life's story covers all the bases -- all two of them -- if not the whole softball game.

 Now consider something else: Would you prefer to fall into the hands of those without a heart, or those without intelligence? When I say "heart," I mean just the normal City definition. Just let your ordinary memory -- your Warner Brothers and 20th Century Fox memory -- answer this question. Would you rather fall into the hands of someone without a heart? Obviously such a person would be foreign, to you at least, and you've seen what can happen when you fall into the clutches of such people -- Or, would you rather fall into the hands of someone without intelligence?

 I'll do some of your thinking for you and point out that all those famous movie directors and writers at Warner Brothers wouldn't make a great distinction between these two areas. In the movies, all foreigners are dumber than you are, AND they're villains. Movies always show such characters without a heart. But I'm asking you to consider that there is a subtle and very real distinction between those without a heart and those without intelligence.

 Now I would strongly suggest that you take all of this from the realm of "out there" and move it "in here" for consideration. Who do you take after, internally? All of you fall into either the category of those without a heart, or those without intelligence.

 Each of you feels that "you" are continually falling into the hands of somebody, internally. Inside you there seem to be two people -- two voices are required for the nervous system to be walking-around conscious. And you have wired into you the feeling that you are continually falling into the hands of those in you who have no heart, or of those with no intelligence. Just look, internally. What is your apparent feeling toward you, at City level? How do you continually feel about yourself, in the ordinary sense? Do you feel you've fallen into the hands of someone without a heart, or of someone without intelligence?

 Part of Life's First Story is that there is no real distinction between these two areas. Operationally, it seems as though if you've got no heart, you've got no intelligence. But that's not the whole story. Back to my opening question: Which would you prefer? Of course, if you feel you've fallen, internally, into the hands of those with no intelligence, maybe you shouldn't push that. Go eat a candy bar, sit down, relax.

 Here's another loose end: I've said, "A Real Revolutionist is never fully comfortable with his clothes on." May I suggest that had almost nothing to do with wearing apparel? You did suspect that, didn't you? I suggest that someone attracted to This Activity might, in the statistical future, not be totally comfortable with any confining, limiting fashion. Maybe you feel sometimes that you've hit a brick wall in your own thinking. At times, you're almost ready to turn a corner, but something holds you back. You might think the clothes you apparently have to wear are due to your environment, your parents or society. But the reason you can't seem to turn the corner is not your environment, your parents or your education.

 For a Real Revolutionist, whatever you blame your wardrobe on is the same story. To a Revolutionist, it doesn't matter what's intellectually or emotionally fashionable. Someone living in 300 B.C. might feel the same way -- at that time, people dressed out of necessity, not modesty or a concept of fashion. Anything that is a limitation -- any clothing that confines -- is not useful to someone attempting to do anything out of the ordinary.

 Clothes are partly for protection. Emblematically, all forms of emotional and intellectual fashion are a sort of protection. Try asking someone in the City, "Are you fully comfortable with your beliefs, your emotional life?" and they will say, "Not completely." But in the bell curve of the City, that doesn't matter. If you conducted a religious survey and asked, "Do you realize that fifty percent of those in your religion are not fully satisfied with that religion?" the respondents might agree amicably. But don't let someone else in the City come up and say anything bad about their beliefs, or the protection factor will come into play. The same people who agreed with your survey will be shouting, "It's better to be a (fill in the blank) than to be nothing at all, even if it's not completely satisfactory!!" And what if they are right? After all, you've got to be SOMETHING.

 You could stop someone who's fashionably dressed and ask, "Do you actually like wearing your hair that way, dressing that way?" They might admit, "Well, not really, it's a lot of trouble." "Then, why do you do it?" "It's fashionable, that's why." This is no different from asking someone why they are a Catholic, a Jew or whatever, when they do not really believe in the laws and doctrines of their forefathers' faith. They'll probably answer, "You have to be something, what are you?"

 You can look at this from any angle: anything that can be seen as confining or limiting is always a form of protection and is fashionable somewhere. Yet, if you are a Revolutionist and to the Bushes born, City clothes are a limitation. Someday you'll see that all fashions are uncomfortable; there are no such things as revolutionary clothes. Clothes may be protection, but they're confining. And if they get too big or small, they are no longer any protection. There's no such thing as comfortable clothes and certainly no such thing as comfortable fashion out in the Bushes.

 Another thing many of you wrote questions to me about, was the subject of "Don't count your chickens." Let me get down to the pragmatic, behavioral level and say something more about that. You should certainly go out in the yard and scatter chicken feed. You should water the chickens, exercise them. But that's it. Don't keep charts and scoreboards. For example, if you're going to lose weight, don't go buy a scale. If you already own one, throw it away. Don't weigh yourself. Don't even guess. If you break your leg, they take you to the hospital and the nurse weighs you in, stick your fingers in your ears so you won't hear what she says. Don't ever count your chickens.

 A Real Revolutionist would never put up a chart of "what I did today," or, "what I'm supposed to do today." This is one of the great things people do that keeps people from ever doing whatever people think they're going to do. This is part of the "sweet spot" in Life: you'll end up devoting a great deal of your energy to the thinking about, the planning, the agreement to, the deed itself. And you'll never do the deed.

 Here's an example. A man decides to lose weight and he notices the rusty old scale in his bathroom and thinks, "I know now they have modern digital scales that are more exact, where can I get a brand new one?" And then he thinks, "Don't I need a chart hanging up in here to keep track of how much I'm losing?" I'm not saying you're dumb to do this, except, yes you are dumb. You're dumb to mistake agreement for the actual deed. You think, "Yes, I've got to lose. I have so much to lose, I'll go buy a notebook to keep track of how many pounds I lose a week." You've taken the agreement for the actual deed.

 Real Revolutionists don't count chickens or keep charts. If a Revolutionist was going to lose weight, he would never weigh himself. What the hell has THAT got to do with losing weight?? Here's the scam, out in Life: Part of losing weight is to have a scale to see if you're succeeding or not. And back in the City, no one can work alone. They have to start asking people in their car pool, "Hey, do I look like I've lost weight?" Does that sound silly? Go back to the first example: "Without a scale, how will I know if I've lost weight?"

 It's only one small step from that to people asking, "How will I know if I'm getting smarter?" People can't work alone. In the City, they can't do much of anything without comparing themselves to others. I repeat: A Real Revolutionist doesn't count his chickens. If you put out a sign saying, "Chicken Farm," or "Chicken Man," people will come up and want to buy chickens. You say, "I don't have any chickens," but the sign says, "Chicken Farm." Does this sound familiar? "Can I bum a cigarette, I just quit smoking." "You've been on a diet now for three weeks now, have you lost any weight?" "Well, I don't know, do you think I have?"

 Here's something else that got almost no reaction when I brought it up recently: "Anything that can apparently be a hobby, it's opposite can also be a hobby. If shopping can be a hobby, then not shopping can also be a hobby." There was a purpose behind that; now let me expand it a little. How about, if having stuff is a hobby -- which it is (a genetic holdover from hunting and gathering, perhaps) -- then not having stuff is equally a hobby. You might infer, correctly, that I'm giving some weight to the "not" part. And I am, because people never look at hobbies that way. Not having stuff is a legitimate hobby, just like having stuff is.

 Often people involved in This, when they look around at their stuff, may think, "I wish I was nude." "I wish I didn't have any chickens so I could quit countin' em." They almost wish they could let all those people inside loose, wave goodbye, and keep only enough to buy what is absolutely necessary. "Hey, can I buy four squares of toilet paper to tide me over for today?"

 Take this out of the "physical world" and into the world of fears, complaints, problems, improbable dreams and accounts receivable. Wouldn't that be a splendid melange of things to NOT have? Not only all those rinky dink books, or cars, or closets full of clothes -- but all that stuff inside. Think about all these things people have for hobbies. Now turn them toward the NOT part. Think how it could be your legitimate hobby NOT to have problems, fears, accounts receivable, and so on. Also notice that if ordinary people didn't have those things as hobbies, they'd be driving the rest of us crazy. Once again: If having all that stuff is a legitimate hobby, couldn't NOT having all that stuff be a legitimate hobby?

 Here is something else. In protecting oneself, one's loves and, in legitimate cases, one's possessions, to err on the side of the conservative is no error at all. Are you never going to learn from Life to protect what you love, until you drop and perhaps break it at least once? You should, for example, protect your health. You should not always be wrecking cars or feel like you're being followed around by the bad luck fairy. There is a way in which a Revolutionist must learn to protect himself. If you're still alive and involved in This, you should be fighting to stay alive. You should be continually attempting to protect yourself and everything you love -- your family, your pets, your possessions -- include all that when I say to protect "oneself." To protect that which is you, that which you love, is legitimate. And to err on the side of the conservative in protecting oneself is not to err at all.

 If you ever believe you're being too conservative in protecting yourself, you're wrong. That is never an error. That may sound like a City motto, but it's not. In the City, protection and care of oneself is not one of the legitimate, hard-wired concerns. People don't protect themselves, and then they sit around and whine and complain about the results. They say, after the fact, "Well, I killed my dog (or my mother) and burned the house down, but at least I learned my lesson." Are you crazy? A Real Revolutionist learns the lesson BEFORE the lesson is there. Everyone else can say, "Who could ever have expected THIS to happen?" Who indeed.

 If you don't think there's an answer inside all that, then you have taken yourself for a ride here. You can't live and learn after the fact.

 There is one saying I've never allowed to be read before: "Everybody loves grandma after the fire." (Or, "God, I loved that sofa I spilled glue all over.") I think we'll conclude with that.