And yet there are those who think Humanity is the problem. 'Humanity is destroying the environment' they will say. Whereas the truth is that it is a particular culture that is destroying the environment, rather than Humanity per se. I have written about this before. The species is fine, it is the culture that is the problem. There's too many people, claims Johnson and his father Stanley, and that is the problem. They are fine with the extractive, exploitive, predatory culture that they represent. The culture is not the problem, as they see things. Both are noted for their lack of kindness, among other things.
Kindness is bigger than Gross Domestic Product as a measure of human success. Gross National Happiness makes more sense to me, as a humane being.. Kindness is more, so much more than National Pride. Kindness is older than any religious creed. Kindness is more beautiful than sending a rocket to Mars. Kindness makes us human. Kindness is prehistoric. Kindness is in our evolved genetic and behavioural disposition. Our default state is trust.
Kindness is political.
Boris Johnson is unkind. Here is speaks, in Greenwich, February 3rd 2020, aware already that a global pandemic is underway.
"And in that context, we are starting to hear some bizarre autarkic rhetoric, when barriers are going up, and when there is a risk that new diseases such as coronavirus will trigger a panic and a desire for market segregation that go beyond what is medically rational to the point of doing real and unnecessary economic damage, then at that moment humanity needs some government somewhere that is willing at least to make the case powerfully for freedom of exchange, some country ready to take off its Clark Kent spectacles and leap into the phone booth and emerge with its cloak flowing as the supercharged champion, of the right of the populations of the earth to buy and sell freely among each other."
Note that Johnson makes no reference to human harms, death and damage from severe disease.
"And here in Greenwich in the first week of February 2020, I can tell you in all humility that the UK is ready for that role.
We are ready for the great multi-dimensional game of chess in which we engage in more than one negotiation at once and we are limbering up to use nerves and muscles and instincts that this country has not had to use for half a century."
He underlined that part of the speech. " I can tell you in all humility " He prefers international chess play to caring for the people. And 14 months later, the harms he said he would have avoided, he did not.
He rushed us all headlong into those harms - and he has not had the courage, the gumption to put his hand up, to stop the train wreck, to do the right thing.
He is a weakling, a petty bully pimped up by high office. He is not alone. The Cabinet and Party are with him, all the way. They prefer their power to the welfare of the people 'they serve' - so unkindly.
Boris Alexander Johnson is unkind, even as he wishes public debate to be 'kind and civil'. What kind of man is he?
Boris Johnson Tackles Adults.
Johnson betrayed his wife, and mother of four of his children, while she suffers from cancer, by conducting a 4 year affair with a young American woman. How unkind is that? How cruel and callous, how utterly selfish! And then in addition there is the corruption. Channelling hundreds of thousands of pounds of tax payers money to his younger lovers ill fated and repetitively faulty business ideas. How kind of him! What a waste of tax payers money!
Kindness is political.
Obama was charming. His political action was unkind. Not much of a difference, really, if you were one of the many innocent people harmed by US Foreign and Domestic Policy during his 8 year stint as President and Chief of Staff. Poverty expanded, Drone Warfare and War in Syria and Libya expanded, as did the wealth of billionaires, under his 'leadership'.
Evolution and Kindness.
Some would say that, politically, kindness has the potential to be revolutionary. Jacinda Ardern is revolutionary, it could be said - and not a guillotine or an AK47 in sight.
In all species of primate the infant stays close to the mother for extended periods of time, physically close, attached, in touch, body to body. Mammalian and primate infants are vulnerable and they need that constant care and protection while they are growing. Human infants are among the most totally vulnerable, and our vulnerability lasts for a long time.
Mothering is expensive.
We often think of the unequal gender division of unpaid labour as a personal issue, but a new report by Oxfam proves that it is a global issue—and that a handful of men are becoming incredibly wealthy while women and girls bear the burden of unpaid work and poverty.
According to Oxfam, the unpaid care work done by women and girls has an economic value of $10.8 trillion per year and benefits the global economy three times more than the entire technology industry.
"Women are supporting the market economy with cheap and free labour and they are also supporting the state by providing care that should be provided by the public sector," the report notes.
The unpaid work of hundreds of millions of women is generating massive wealth for a couple of thousand (predominantly male) billionaires. "What is clear is that this unpaid work is fuelling a sexist economic system that takes from the many and puts money in the pockets of the few," the report states.Kindness exploited is political.
Shared child care is evolutionary economics.
It is a mark of this culture that in order to prove that something is toxic, or harmful that our scientists are driven to experiment with animals - when in fact there is no need to do so, when we know that most of the novel synthetic compounds being tested cannot be broken down by any known biological process, when in this case it is obvious that disruption to any infants relationship with the mother is going to cause problems for that child.
Nonetheless, those experiments and the consequences or 'evidence' of disruption of child-mother bonding formed the scientific germ of the idea of that became Attachment Theory.
The theory stated that the degree of nurturance or disruption of child-mother bonding in infancy - that vulnerable stage - determined the sociability and adult behaviour of the adult to be. One aspect of the theory looked at the setting within which mothering occurs, and took note of external stressors that might impact attachment bonding. A stressed mother can undermine healthy attachment, through no personal fault of her own, simply because she has to endure stresses imposed by external events and actions of others.
Some portrayed this as 'blaming mothers' and used that as a distraction tactic, a way to trigger emotional reactions that led people to reject the ideas of attachment theory.
Attachment Theory 2.0
Science can describe with ever greater detail and intimacy the processes of brain development from within the womb, through birth and infancy, toddlerhood and onwards. Science can describe with great accuracy how experience and environmental factors have effects that are invisible, that happen beneath the skin and within the skull, yet which lead to outcomes in behaviours that are all too visible and easy to misconstrue.
The Extended Family Brain
“The brain is heavily influenced by genes. But from birth through young adulthood, the part of the human brain that most defines us (frontal cortex) is less a product of the genes with which you started life than of what life has thrown at you.
Whilst there are key dynamics between every mother and her infant child, the development of healthy self regulation is modulated by all carers and the more loving carers a child has, the better it is for that child and consequently the adult the child will become. In essence shared care is an evolutionary dynamic that has altered our brains and our behaviour, for the better, and it underpins our co-operative, egalitarian nature.
Extend that across a population and we can suggest a way to prevent distress emerging in future populations by nurturing the earliest relationships that extended families can provide. Kindness in policy is indeed political.
That bears repeating - affective state self regulation is largely matured by age two, in all healthy human children and it is entirely dependent upon the quality of the relationship and interactions of all the adults or carers in that child's life.
The 'terrible twos' is a cultural symptom of distress, not a biological marker.
As I understand it, this is when the infant becomes a walker, and is capable of independent exploration of the new world she or he is in, and the last thing the new explorer needs is a shortened fuse. The care and kindness that earliest empathic parenting is delivered with sets the child up for life and equips the child with affective state self regulation that is necessary for adult life. Beliefs about innate behaviour need to be challenged, especially when they inform public policy discussions.
In a typical human extended family, child care is shared. That is the norm for all studied egalitarian cultures. That is also the norm in most older pre-industrial sedentary cultures. In peasant families, siblings care for younger sibling;, babies and infants are held by mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and grand parents. This care is typically loving, replete with those little kindnesses that inform life long bonds of friendship and support.
The Nuclear Family and The Factory
In addition because contraception was not used, serial pregnancies were normal outcomes, infant mortality was high, and child care was shared by siblings, aunts and grandparents, and so they all lived within easy reach. This helped build resilient factory system communities out of the destruction of the older peasant communities. The men went to work, and the women collectively cared for the children and the men.
General schools for the workers children were invented to indoctrinate successive generations, and to train future factory workers. Personal development was deliberately ignored as a subject worthy of the educators efforts. Workers children need not study the classics, or Law or philosophy, or the Arts.
Poverty is a structure.
Nannies and others.
Right now, as the pandemic of SARSCOV2 and it's disease CODIV19 rolls out across the Earth's countries, we are seeing the impact of lack of kindness across the developed world, were some nations have rejected zero community transmission strategies for dealing with an epidemic, with intolerable human costs and associated economic costs, all of which is met with continued denial of shared responsibility. That is unkind. That is an institutionalised lack of kindness at scale.
Other countries have adopted zero community transmission, and have avoided all the costs and harms, and that represents a form of institutional kindness. Indeed, Jacinda Ardern is explicit about this, and has been since before her first election into office as New Zealand's Prime Minister.
Kindness is political. Callous disregard is also political.
If we want a healthier future for all our children, and for all their children, then we had better start acting with political kindness in mind at every part of our culture. The bullying is lethal, the bullying is toxic nonsense and in evolutionary terms utterly, utterly irrational. We must bring it to an end, with kindness as our primary ethic.