Section I - Chapter -7- Behavior
Let's begin, or continue our journey of growth by looking at group patterning or social growth. We have, up to now, talked about the individual as a single entity and how he functions in relationship to the world around him. We have made references to other people in connection with the individual and we have also talked about sociological identification, but we did not elaborate on how the individual behaves as a group or a group behaves as an individual.
There is a definite message that this chapter has to convey in our progression to discover that known as the self or "Who am I?"; however, to write about it in a straight forward way will not convince you of its importance and/or the tremendous powers that control or influences the individual. Therefore, I feel that I must reinforce my argument by resorting to examples of knowledge which you can directly relate too. This is necessary to get you to look at and analyze that inborn and inbred mental patterning or conditioning that we all have to some extent. Until the individual or you, learns to understand the importance or significance of yourself or your part in this so called real world around you, you will be a victim, so to speak, of your environment. The idea of this chapter is to convince you of your own importance and power you have to affect your own reality. To do this, you should look at this information and all information with an inquisitive asking eye. You should analyze everything given to you in a way you have never done so before. You should not accept things as they appear to be, but again you must not isolate yourself, balance is the key.
What I am saying, is that I want you to look at perhaps familiar information in an unfamiliar way. I would like to convince you to abandon your routine behavior of patterned learning habits which consist of short beginnings and endings for a more objective way of interpreting and/or recognizing your reality. This is a difficult task, and it is made even worst by the fact that most information is somewhat pre-digested or biased reported and passed on to other people. However, I would like you to try and exclude likes and dislikes associated with words, actions, and/or existing values. Let's try to understand behavior and values for what they are and are not. It is totally impossible to exclude all understanding and information not experienced directly; however, I would like you to question such information and perhaps use it only for comparing and not for making judgments and/or selections.
To explain behavior and values, we are going to rely on information that has been collected, and compiled by others for the purpose of understanding the inner workings of large groups of people. Now again, this information is not experienced; therefore, you should question its accuracy and/or conclusions and/or observed reporting of supposedly factual information. We will use this information for comparing, but we will not use it to control or direct our own selection processes at this time.
One of the best ways to understand and study values is to observe them in action. To cite examples or differences of values within our own society is asking for trouble. That is, there is no way the reader is going to sit back and take such information in an acceptable passive manner, when we are talking about something that might directly or indirectly affect him or the guy next door. Whatever logical reasoning power one possesses, would be overcome with emotional ties to basic beliefs, and that would destroy any attempt to lead us to a truly desired or intended unbiased understanding of ourselves. Therefore, to do this, we must rely on and study the behavior of other societies or groups of people.
To achieve this objective or new understanding, let's refer back to an area of study mentioned before. Let's talk about anthropology. To remind you, this subject matter, deals primarily with the study of physical man and his behavior, rather than man's organizations and institutions that is covered by sociology, which is also referred to earlier. There will still be crossovers in this explanation; however, here we are concerned with human behavior. Any explanation of man must also include that which he surrounds himself with, or that which is familiar to him; consequently, it is difficult to talk about physical man without talking about both areas of study.
The study of man is the study of man's customs and traditions. These routines or practices probably constitute the major basis of man's conditioning or limiting of his behavior patterns. These patterns limit him and serve him by providing him with those so called landmarks that I referred to in the last chapter. That is, man uses customs and traditions to identify and reinforce his own being with that of a larger, greater force or being which has somewhat tangible qualities. Man looks to his immediate surroundings for comfort and security. He looks to his family, his society and his sub-cultures for acceptance and assurance that he is somehow important, and that he is in some way, shape, or form, contributing to that greater force or entity in either a positive or negative manner. You see, man must make his presence known, and to do this, he must enter into a give and take situation. Again, we run into balance. This relationship, or contribution, or involvement, enlarges the overall learning process of both the individual and that of his society, group, and/or environment.
In the last chapter, I indicated that routines may affect human behavior patterns more significantly than individual creative actions. However, I also indicated that the individual is rarely aware or conscious of such controlled or limited behavior patterns. That's because customs and traditions are patterns, values or guidelines impressed upon the individual from early childhood. They are actions and/or learned unquestioned responses to beliefs. Therefore, these customs and traditions are linked to both the logical rationing mind and the powerful emotional control center. Therefore, these routines not only affect the characteristics or relationship of an individual to certain tangible possessions, but they also affect the way people think and act.
It is interesting to note and reflect back to an earlier statement I said some time ago, that man basically limits himself to a cause and effect type behavior pattern which is heightened or give more importance or value in a stimulus-response type relationship. Again, you have the mental logic system being given more energy or value by that of the emotional control center. I also said or compared the self imposed limiting behavior of the individual to that of how a computer works. Now I am prepared to go one step further and maybe out on the limb to say that customs and traditions are in a basic sense, the same as computer programs. That is, they are like routines rather than normal actions of logical thought. One learns or is conditioned to respond to specific stimuli, which conclude with known or predetermined results or actions within certain acceptable limits of probability. The end results are similar to a multiple choice test; however, the amount one experiences is heightened or diminished by one’s emotions.
The logic and emotional functions of the individual determines one's behavior. The above paragraph tends to indicate that the emotions rule or control the individual; however, let me remind you, the individual actually makes those decisions and selections which brings that person into that particular situation where the emotions take over and/or control the individual's actions. You might want to compare this thought process to that of a railroad track, because one mentally throws the switches (makes selections) of the logic system which starts one off in a direction to get to somewhere or something for a specific reason. However, the length of time one stays on that track and/or the experiences that are encountered is determined by the emotional center. Because of the power of the emotional center, one sometimes forgets the reason for taking that track or the end results one was seeking.
This again is a case of balance, where one compliments the other, and you make your own reality and select those things which you want to experience. The way one experiences reality is determined by the relationship of the conscious self or being on an emotional level with that of one's physical senses and not the mental logic reasoning powers of the conscious self. I will refine this statement later on, but briefly, one uses the physical senses for nearly all conscious input to the learning triangle or in his growth process. Therefore, emotions tend to dominate the individual, because the emotional center is tied to and/or responds to the physical stimuli; whereas, the logic system has no such connection.
It looks like here; we have landed on a very important statement that has tremendous implications. However, I do not wish to elaborate on this subject at this point. The main thing to remember is that the physical world and/or self must relate or relates best to that which is similar to its self. That means that man is composed of physical matter and is equipped to detect physical stimuli and responds to the same physical matter or the human body mechanisms. That is the reason for the emotions to rule or control one's behavior more so than the logic reasoning system of the mind. It is difficult, if not impossible to detach one's self from the physical world in which he dwells, nor should he, but he should also be consciously aware of the unmanifested spiritual world in which he also resides. Again, we are talking about balance.
Getting back to the subject at hand, we were talking about customs and traditions, before we got sidetracked onto emotions. Speaking about tracks, each culture, society, nation, group, etc., has its own set of tracks, guidelines and/or limitations on nearly every conceivable word, thought or actions, past, present and future. The way people act or behave is to a large degree, in a direct relationship to the customs and traditions of that group in which the person dwells. As indicated by the chapter on social identification, it is difficult to really isolate and identify a specific group as that which sets all these legal rules and regulations as well as the informal customs and traditions which people observe. However, there is such an entity or force, be it singular or multiple, is not important. What is important, is that these words, thoughts and actions have to some extent or another, preconceived values attached to them to make them either good, bad, right or wrong to some degree. These predetermined values are in turn, directly related to the overall control of the individual and consequently, the group.
A rough guideline to discover these intangible values is to observe trends (short beginnings and endings). That is, one can and should observe obvious behavior patterns in everything and everybody from a very simple act to those which are complex. Certain things are favored, liked or preferred above other things to a greater or lesser extent. This is like one's personal taste or diet, but it doesn't have to be food that is the nourishment. Then again, when it comes down to mental thought processes or patterning, another old saying might be appropriate here. And that is, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do". Here, I am referring to one's basic sense or ability to perceive differences and/or to adapt to a new environment that has different preferred patterns with specific beginnings and endings.
To emphasize that last statement, I think a little explanation is in order. The context of this old saying is basically some good advice for individuals to use in order to get along with people in an unfamiliar environment. It is saying that one should try to blend into that new environment in order to accomplish in the best way possible, that reason or result that brings one to that environment. This is accomplished by trying to dress, groom, speak, eat, act and to conform to those customs and traditions of the land. Doing and performing all of these acts does not make you one or part of that new society or group; however, it does minimize your own differences which can hinder your task(s), or bring unwanted attention and possibly even scorn by others in that particular group. One normally performs or acts effectively in an environment of ease and relaxation with the trust and confidence of those around him, and to accomplish this, one must be capable of generating or responding to those around him on an equal basis. This means to stress the similarities or positive virtues in everyone and thing and not to emphasize the negative differences. This is accomplished by observing and following the patterns of that society or environment.
So, you see, this innocent little old saying has some interesting ramifications. It is saying the same thing that I have been telling you all along, that duplication and conformity is encouraged and reinforced as something that is good and right. To do as the Romans do, is behavior patterning in its most obvious condition. However, most of the patterning which I eluded to earlier takes place within our own society or group(s) and is more of a subconscious level of thought than is indicated by this old saying. In this lengthy explanation, I am in a sense, comparing customs and traditions to that of a group, rather than that of an individual. But in this case, the group behaves as an individual. That is, the group finds it beneficial to be as close or similar to one another as possible in order to appreciate and/or respect one another's individual behavior. The idea is, if everyone shares the same things, they must also appreciate and respect the same values; hence, the consequences are self imposed limitations, otherwise known as conformity. This is nothing more than the performing of actions and/or the sharing of patterns that have short beginnings and endings.
We still have a little problem here that needs to be straightened out. In our explanation of customs and traditions, we basically said that these values are characteristic of a particular group, or are relative to that group. Earlier, we said that the word, best, and subsequently, values too, were relative to the individual. How can both statements be true and not conflict with one another? The key to this problem is this thing called, self imposed limitations. The individual is part of a larger group and he imposes limitations which fit himself and that of a particular group. One does not need to comply or limit one's self totally to that group, because that group as stated before, cannot be totally isolated and/or identified itself. Even if that group could be totally identified, it is still a collection of minorities or sub-groups organized to control or accomplish a specific task or certain favored interests. It is in itself not a total inflexible absolute that controls absolutely, nor should it be. It is a framework or structure in which the individual can help fill or to add a little color.
Because of these self imposed limitations, it is difficult to determine who limits whom. Does the individual limit the group or does the group limit the individual? I believe, you will find your answer to this question in our discussion on balance. You have a lot more influence than you really think you have. You make your own reality and if you think you have something good, you will find that you have a following or group, with or without your conscious knowledge or approval. The only element that is missing from this group is that of control. Who controls such a group? The answer is simple! Anyone who wants it or believes in it most and is willing to initiate some action that will bring about a more wide spread knowledge of this good thing. Hence, we have a new control group within that group that you started, whether you know it or not.
This group, like you, has an interest or cause that affects its immediate surroundings or environment. The effect(s) or action(s) of this group, on behalf of you and/or your ideas, has the ability to change existing relationships. That is, patterns or routines that had been set prior to your idea will affect or change the status quo and in effect, sets up new relationships. The resulting changes, or lack of changes, depends upon stimulus, values or position of you and/or the interest group. The amount of energy that is generated or stimulated, affects, advances or enlarges the involvement or growth of this particular interest and/or interest group. The response, in turn, affects time, space and physical matter, or to put it in more simple terms, one's environment, just like our motor boat syndrome example.
This exaggerated situation is a classic example of our learning process, triangle or pyramid in action. In this example, an individual is somehow affected by someone or something in his environment. The way that a person reacts to something, in this cause, stimulates him to affect a response of some kind. The way this individual reacts to a situation or problem, is characteristic of that individual and is somewhat predictable. This patterned response is known and classified as behavior; but in effect, it is actually that individual's learning process routine. That is, one selects a series of specific patterns to arrive at an understanding of relationships. This process consists of switches (selections) of a yes-no, or go-no go computer like routines. In this manner, one is able to direct energy and relate knowledge of experiences which he knows will affect certain specific results in the way of physical changes to bring about possessions or a desired result. Voila! And there you have it. The learning process is complete, or rather; it is an on-going and continuous overlapping process until its energy is overcome by a greater resistance.
In my attempt to clarify the problem of values between the group and the individual, I actually explained behavior and the learning process again. But, throughout these explanations, I have also and again referred to limitations. Therefore, the point to remember in all our explanations is that man limits himself. The purpose of these limits is a matter of control and stability. To radically abandon limits and controls, one runs the risk of losing the learning process, or more specific, the understanding of relationships. In a sense, without these controls or limits, individuals have little common ground on which to agree and/or relate to. In a more humorous contemporary way of putting it, I recently saw a picture of an ape with the following caption that read: "Just when I learn all the answers, they go ahead and change the questions on me". You cannot have proper growth without responsible limitations.
Perhaps, I should now elaborate on the words, responsible limitations. But to do this, let's go back to my earlier statement I made that said, that all words, thoughts and actions have to some extent or another, preconceived values attached to them. Also, I think it might not be a bad idea to clarify the actions of groups at the same time. What I am going to try and do here is to kill three birds with one stone, so to speak.
I believe that perhaps everyone, including myself, might have generalized that all words and actions taken in behalf of, or to benefit specific interest groups is considered good and right. But, if I were to say that, we run into problems. First, the word benefit would have to be defined and limits set on the desired end results expected, before we can have or be able to place a value on that or those actions of that particular interest group in question. This is difficult, if not impossible to do, and yet, this is absolutely necessary unless we want to run the risk of saying those actions taken by that interest and/or control group of say, the German people in the second world war. In this case, this interest or control group set about the deliberate act of human destruction for supposedly good and right reasons which were the supposed purification of the German/human race. This type of same logic or situation exists in nearly all conditions of war or violence, where all people involved are supposedly acting in behalf of good and right reasons for a proper end result. It's also interesting to note that after that physical conflict of interests, only one interest group is right and that group is that one which controls the final outcome.
In all these situations, a particular action was right and/or good so long as that group remained in control. In these cases, and perhaps most cases of conflict, the old adage; " Might makes right!" is correct. However, such logic is illogical. Therefore, we find ourselves moving from a position of belief and support of interest and control groups to that of suspicion and caution, and/or non-involvement in any organization. Now doesn't that sound a little close to home? In any case, the quality or value of action resides in the control group which supposedly is acting in behalf of a majority of people and therefore, or, because of this relationship, their actions are assumed good and right. The actions of this or any control group do, or may have preconceived agenda(s) that are supposed to be responsible to all interests. But are they?
In our chapter on sociological identification, we said that people organized themselves, limited themselves and become specialized in order to derive greater benefits and to decrease the burdens that a totally self sufficient individual would have to face if he were all alone in the physical world. Well, in undertaking this relationship, man has reaped great benefits and tragedies as well. When man entered into this relationship, he assumed certain responsibilities to his fellow man to aid him by providing greater benefits than that individual could provide by himself. This relationship worked fine up to a point; however, once man was relieved of a greater part of his problems, he sought more than his share of the wealth than the land could provide. In a sense, he became greedy and possessions still weren't enough for him, but with possessions, he found he could exercise great power over his fellow man. Wealth gave him prestige, pride and control because of his position within the group and his immediate environment. With this control, man continued to seek enlargement of his environment and consequently, he conflicted with others nearby. Times have changed, but this quest for power and position has not.
Today, those people elected or brought into power, or for that matter, put in any position of authority or control, are given responsibilities to fulfill certain legal or mutually agreed upon rules of conduct. However, more often than not, these same people confuse their responsibilities with that of temporary absolute power. That is, they confuse the guidelines of their responsible behavior with that of the endowed power or right of and by their position. Rather than to manage the affairs of many to help and aid them, they tend to control or manipulate their brethren for self interests. This may or may not be done on a conscious level. However, it appears as if there may be an indirect desire or wish to control people for supposedly good intentions, help or even humanitarian reasons, but just the same, the reason is often overcome by the power or position of the authority and not the other way around.
The reason for this use of power may be founded in a simple explanation. It may be a lot easier for people in authority to issue orders or direction, rather than to manage the affairs of their fellow men. It requires a great deal of effort to mange properly, and by just issuing directions, these people do not have to worry about a proper balance or quality to life and living conditions of the many instead of the select few. It is simpler to just suspend the mutually agreed upon rules for those rules of their own liking and/or interests. Therefore, that is one of the reasons why it is said; "Might makes right", or why good and/or right exists only with that group or interest that is in control. That's because people or persons in control tend to interpret existing rules and laws to their own beliefs and/or their special interests take precedence over those of the majority or will of the people and remember, a majority is nothing more than a collection of minorities that is constantly changing. Effective power must be concentrated or directed in order to overcome resistance.
Perhaps, these last few statements are a little harsh, or they may at least come off that way; however, it may also explain away a lot of problems people have in dealing with people in authority. There does seem to be a definite lack of ability or insensitivity on behalf of authoritative figures to try to properly balance different thoughts and beliefs on the way things can be. Then again, this problem that individuals have with authority may also stem from the inability of authority to control or enforce such power to correct or influence change adequately or fairly. Again, authority gets its power to control from the same people who seek this same power in return. If the people refuse to cooperate with authority, then authority has no power to control. The whole purpose and intent of this latter explanation was to try and indicate and identify perhaps some of the inconsistencies or discrepancies in the rules and regulations which are designed to limit behavior. However, what we got was what we want. You make your own reality.
The concept of our legal judicial system is somewhat offset or balanced by customs and traditions. The only difference between the two concepts is that the point of control or position of the limits. That is, our legal system and customs and traditions, vary only in the fact that one system has an identifiable single source of control; whereas, the latter has no known source. Consequently, customs and traditions are a way to get around formal laws, rules, and regulations from sources of authority. They are, in effect, an informal way of limiting and controlling without a direct power source. However, just the same, customs and traditions are a force of direct authority which is vested in each and everyone. Therefore, it does have the power or threat of physical punishment or negative reinforcement per se to make it just as strong as our formal legal system. Together, these two systems or forces, balance each other out. And again, we return to our concept of balance and/or position.
Directly and indirectly the legal and the informal systems are designed to limit or control one's behavior by a negative form of punishment. The important feature of control rests with people designated or responsible for the administering or controlling of these limitations; however, the actual control rests with the individual himself. All the systems and all the powers on earth cannot and will not limit or control an individual, if that individual does not wish to limit himself to the guidelines so identified or indicated to him. The alternative to variance is physical punishment, isolation or death. However, we said a long time ago, that there are usually more benefits gained by a group sharing responsibilities than there is if one where self sufficient. Therefore, more often than not, the individual will choose to comply or limit one's behavior.
It might be interesting to mention here, that civilization used to administer to or tried to invoke its will of control upon the greater populace by legal means of enforcement or authority mentioned previously; however, today's societies tend to stress the more positive side of limiting behavior or by appealing to or working with the emotional center of the mind, rather than the logic center. That is, in times past, one witnessed and felt the power of physical punishment and logically concluded that it would be more beneficial to comply or limit one's behavior to that of the interest or control group in power, or at least, that was the thinking of the people in authority back then. A review of past history indicates that these efforts were not very successful.
Today, man has to some extent, learned that physical punishment or the threat of such punishments doesn't really work. Rather, it may achieve temporary limits or goals; however, it really only delays the problem or source of conflict, it doesn't solve or resolve the problem. Therefore, man has tried to use psychology to positively reinforce the need or benefits of such self imposed limitations. That is, man is now attempting to persuade the mind and appeal to the emotional center of the mind to make such changes. As I mentioned before, the emotional center deals with the physical senses and therefore tends to have greater control over the individual than the logical mind. Also, by working with the mental capacities, less physical efforts and energies may be expended to obtain the desired end results and they may be obtained faster. Therefore, all indications are that limitations are still being forcefully used, but in different ways, and probably, with greater results. So, individual behavior is still a personal matter; however, the matter is becoming more difficult to identify.
Now, there are still a few things that this chapter is lacking in respect to explaining behavior; however, I think you may have a little better idea of how it works. I never did get into the examples of societies and behavior patterns in action. This is still a very important part of this book. To discuss a subject in an indirect way is one thing; to experience a whole way of life is another thing. So let's talk about people. People just love to talk about other people. It's a favorite past time of people to analyze other people's good and bad points, especially the bad points. Whole media and tabloids are built around morally bad and corrupt people, that you begin to wonder if any decent people really exist. At least it sounds that way if you believe everything you read or hear. But of course, you know all of this already. You know, because talking about people is a favorite American or national past time. In the next chapter, you might get an idea of what behavior really is all about and this might change your idea of people as well.