Conscious Parenting = Civil Society
We humans share a biological longing to belong, to be loved. When that nurturing is not provided when we are most vulnerable – as infants and children – there are neurological consequences. TIME Magazine’s freakish mug shot of Jared Loughner, cast in red as if he is the devil incarnate, implies pure evil. But, as we learn of his early history, we find a childhood devoid of joy, spontaneity, nurturing, and normal socialization. Evidently, unavailable to him were the neuro-building blocks of compassion and empathy, the building blocks of a civil society.
The typical media parade of pundits began less than three hours post this horrible event. The blogosphere was already in high gear. The expected, often reckless rhetoric – assigning “evil” or “mental illness” as the genesis of such a heinous act – does allow us to distance ourselves, but also defies three decades of neuroscience proving that babies are much more aware and affected by their environment than we ever imagined. We now understand the crucial role of positive family bonding in forming a child’s neural pathways that develop empathetic and ethical understanding. We know that the stress of fear-based families disrupts these neural connections. Put simply, healthy brain development is much more likely to occur in children from happy homes. Yet, despite decades of research warning of the consequences, we Americans too often ignore the biological foundation of human development and human dignity.
To assign this act (or any act of violence) to an evil, crazed, depraved, mentally deranged, or just plain “crazy nuts” person aborts our nation’s ability to finally recognize our fatal flaw that, unaddressed, is hurling us towards disaster – the indisputable link between conscious parenting and maintaining a civil society.
The coming days will surely bring forth more details of the shooter’s dismal childhood. Already, neighbors describe the parents as “loners” and “reclusive”. Classmates describe Jared as a “loner”, “troubled”, “a kid who watched from his window as neighbor kids played”, and “a kid who rarely smiled”. As no one has mentioned “happy”, “friendly”, or “helpful”, one can’t imagine a lot of hugs and giggles behind that tightly closed front door of the Loughner’s house.
With the objective evidence of our own neuroscience, might we acknowledge that this tragic young man is not inherently evil, or a monster looking for his ten minutes of fame, or an aberration of nature?
For our sake, and the sake of our families, will we acknowledge Jared Loughner is but one of millions upon millions of America’s grownup broken children, victims of a nation that has forgotten what family is for?