Mirror Neurons, Evilution, and a Matter of Choice

[Author’s note: I’ve lifted some comments from a Facebook conversation about violent media.  The other people’s input has been partially edited because of inappropriate language for some of my audience, but I can connect anyone to the conversation if they’d like to join.]

Kate says:
“Truly believe that we live in a monkey-see-monkey-do kinda world, and when all we’re subjected to on a daily basis is news flashes of murders, rapes and terrorism… it’s no wonder people let it consume their every move. Why can’t the news show what awesome things people are currently doing for those in Boston right now? Because it’s not entertaining. **** you I don’t want entertainment I want to live in a world where people respect and love each other and to know I’m safe. I don’t wanna constantly be scared. Just some late night opinions for you there…”
Finbarr replies: “Human violence long predates the media. We are animals remember. Animals don’t have media, but cats will torture anything smaller than them to death, all species will steal food off others, will fight for territory, will dispossess other creatures from lairs if they can or have to. If you throw food to ducks or other birds, they will go crazy trying to get it all, the thought of sharing never occurs. Don’t focus on the negative aspects of humanity without focusing on the positives which FAR outweigh them. We co operate and are selfless in a way that is unique in the animal kingdom… [then] Well, other people are, I’m a ****.”
And my contribution was as follows…
Fascinating thoughts folks… and here’s something to add: mirror neurons and “evilution”… 1) Mirror Neurons are subject to fascinating research – very much “Monkey see, monkey do…” When one “monkey” watches another doing a task like taking fruit out of a jar, the researchers have shown that the same neural path is triggered in the observing monkey. This is why mental rehearsal is so successful. Now, the flip-side is – imagine what damage is being done to minds of all ages when they watch violence and other acts that they are physically capable to doing. Yes, the same neuronal paths can be triggered in their own brains. Weirdly, Jesus said that thinking about committing a crime like murder or adultery would do as much damage to your “heart” as actually doing it. People thought he was mad, but maybe he knows neuroscience? lol.
2) Evilution. I agree with Finbarr – history shows violence is a long established part of our “being” – and engrained in Nature. When people say Nature is wonderful, I know they must be focusing on a very filtered version of Nature – the beauty of the spring leaves in the hedgerow for example. Looking deeper the would see the rotting rabbit in the roots of the hedge, infected with Myxomatosis – invented by man, and eaten by parasites not invented by man!!! So, regardless of your stance on “Evolution” – we definitely have a choice to rise above Evil-ution – we can choose what we watch, which thoughts we nurture, and proactively choose acts of kindness over acts of unkindness.
It starts with the small things… Here, in the Village, we have rich horsey people who ride high above other people and look down on us. One of them allowed their pony to poo on the pavement where the children cross to the library. This was back in November 12. It’s still there. Yesterday, three of them were riding three abreast on the main road. No road tax, no consideration. Why am I picking on our horsey people? Simply because evilution is not about being a Hitler. It’s about acting “as if” you weren’t connected to everyone else. You are. We share the same air, we drink the same water, we are made of the same stardust.
There’s a fascinating thing in psychology called “The Broken Windows Syndrome” – where a building with two broken windows is seen as fair game to those who want to smash more windows. There’s a switch were we suddenly go, it’s OK to be bad. What switch flips in people’s heads where they give themselves permission to fly-tip? What switch flips that then allows people to justify software piracy? What switch would ever justify cheating on your taxes or your partner? I don’t say this in a self-righteous way (I’m with Finbarr on knowing exactly what I am…) but I do know that the switch isn’t switched by itself. YOU and I need to guard our hearts and minds, knowing that there is a momentum of thought that leads to the switch flipping. Kenneth Copeland, who I used to enjoy listening to a lot, would often get more from the King James Version than perhaps the author intended! He was, and is, however, always provocatively inspiring. Something he drew attention to really stuck in my mind: “why take ye the thought saying…” Perhaps, like mirror neurons, we take the thoughts by giving them more attention – by watching bad news, playing violent programmes, watching horror, and just talking bad about other people. Today, I’m going to have a go at: speaking only good of others, drawing people’s attention to what is good, true, pleasing and noble, and proactively seeking to encourage others… and I’m a bad man!!!

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