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Kevin Parcell

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On what kind of world would all the children eat?

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    Mar 29 2012: I think we would have to find a way to get rid of desensitization. Very very few people could sleep with a starving child in our house if we could do something to stop it. Yet, many of us sleep contently each night knowing children are starving in other cities or parts of the world. We are able to put it out of are mind. Is that because the problem is too big and we don't feel we can make a difference...Or is that because we have something in us that clicks off that part of our brain to help us deal with a problem that would give us all ulcers if we dwelt on it as the problem it is.

    Right now I know there is a child somewhere in the world writhing in pain as her digestive acid starts to eat away at her own body, producing gasses that fill her little belly like a balloon. She cries until she is to weak to do anything but whimper...she closes her eyes for the last time. Her brain shuts down because her pain sensors have been overloaded. She takes one more ragged breath using up the last bit of energy her far to little last meal gave her and she dies.
    I know this is happening... When I write about it I feel horrible... I feel a little sick inside...Its not a pleasant feeling. Now I ask myself what can I do about this... Many of us just say...Well I can stop thinking about it. We have that option...Imagine its your own little girl dying of starvation...the bad feeling we got just got a whole lot worse...But its not our child its far away. To some of us out of sight is far way...We are overwhelmed or desensitized...

    We have enough food for everyone. We just have to realize that there are a lot of things we can do...no we cant solve the problem overnight but We cant stop caring and become desensitized either...We are humans and that has to count for something.
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      Apr 2 2012: James, I think you have a good point.
      I am beginning to understand what Desmond Morris observed a while back .. that we can regard about 200 other humans in our lives, and all others are abstract to us.
      If I had an MRI brain scanner - such as used by ANtonio Damasio
      http://www.ted.com/talks/antonio_damasio_the_quest_to_understand_consciousness.html
      DAmasio sems to have identified the primary "self" .. this is useful.
      IF I had such a scanner, I would go looking for where these "others" are stored in our brains.
      I would go looking for the models we keep for singular relationships - family and friends.
      THen I would go looking for where we store plural relationships - "they"
      I predict we will find brain stuctures that correspond to all the personal pronouns.
      I predict that they will be closely connected to the language centres, and that they will be identified by the face recognition centre.
      I predict that they will be basic copies of "self" - and that they will have access to the body-regulation functions, just as self has. That this is the basis of empathy.
      I predect that the plural models will not have direct access to body-regulators.
      I propose that it is the disconnect of the plural "other" models that prevents us feeling the pain of strangers until that stranger is in our direct view and becomes a singular "other".
      THis is a bit of a problem, and is at the root of tribalism.
      We need a code of custom to ease the apathy between tribes.
      Unfortunately, in times of scarcity, tribal competition becomes natural and we start talking of "property".
      That also needs a solution - maintaining abundance would seem like an answer. But .. well, the world is now carrying 7 billion people .. abundance is probably not a problem.
      THe overshoot of human population could easily be fixed by insisting on the right of the female to choose the male - and to train her to select the man who nurtures, not the man who dominates.
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        Apr 3 2012: Mitch......I really appreciated your comment that begins:

        "You are all so beautifully programmed - to think that life is divided by work and leisure."

        thank you
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          Apr 3 2012: It's invisible to us .. in all of history, the crazy farmer has been at work .. 10 thousand years of it.
          Slowly turning us from the power of our empathy that binds us as a beutiful powerful species.. Turning us one by one into psychopaths and sociopoths devoid of empathy .. destroying all our beuty and power and the very earth we walk on.
          Evolution made us strong in numbers, involution makes us weak and alone. As alone as the crazy farmer.
          I look to brain science to identify the psychopath .. and give him the gift of empathy.
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        Apr 7 2012: @ Mitch; I would perform the same set of tests, looking for what sparks up when people experience feelings of greed, power and acquisitiveness. I suspect that brain function which governs all aspects of fear, from basic insecurity anxieties, to physical threat, abandonment, and sexual disfunction, are the guilty culprits.

        After all, when farmers began farming, one of the first thing they needed to learn to do was build a fence, and building the first defensive structures in reality, must have sprung from some new defensive pschycological structures in the human brain.
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          Apr 10 2012: @Joanne.
          It's a good question . I'm no expert, but, having listened to the great thinkers here on TED, books and other sources, it seems like we are getting a new opportunity to confront some of these vexing issues.
          My thought is that it is the task of children to try a range of behavioural approaches to their situations .. and that it is the role of the culture to nurture constructive strategies.
          I believe (could be wrong) that the psychopath is structurally inured to cultural nurture, and can initiate the promotion of destructive strategies - and in this way, manufacture sociopaths.
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          Apr 10 2012: It is also my belief that the defensive structure you are talking about is the simple territorial urge extended from our distant ancestors .. one needs only observe tomcats .. but cats are not social ceatures and they are carnivores, how that develops in the social omnivore creature .. my experience of tribal humans included some remarkable male threat displays they are usually verbal, and they usually are associated with sexual competition (just like tomcats) but, unlike tomcats, they do not occur in the absence of the female. It is more of a dance than a fight.
          perhaps the 200-person tribe defines the range of natural empathy, that inter-tribal territorial dispute demarks a boundary over which empathy does not prevent the dance from becoming murderous. In such a case, a fence might be a good idea.
          The problem with humans is that they are so incredibly versatile, the nature/nurture debate is impossible to define. It may very well be solved by the scans that you propose.
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      Apr 7 2012: @James, I am concerned about human suffering in the world, but I am more hurt and appalled at the callous approach to suffering and neglect in my own back yard. I am increasingly disturbed by the level of social disrespect for human life, the erosion of public health care, care for the elderly, education and the ensuing suffering. I agree with everything you say, but I also think that in a more wealthy society one of the illusions people like to cling to is that only people in other countries can be food insecure, that only in 'poor' or 'developing' countries do kids go to bed hungry.

      In fact, a huge number of children across the usa are food insecure...today. I dread to consider the numbers for my own country, and I guess, based on the numbers of hungry kids I get in my classroom with each new intake, the numbers are worse than we would be ready to admit.
      • Apr 11 2012: Yes indeed, it is worrisome to see some children come hungry to school that their brains are just not ready to "learn". When I first saw this situation, here in America, i was shocked. I thought hungry kids are only in India and Africa! Not only are many children hungry, many are also malnourished. They eat the wrong kinds of foods that does not make up for all the food groups and vitamins and minerals that are required for their growing bodies and minds.

        We have solutions too, but it will mean working together instead of trying to prove myself "right" and earning brownie points (by ways of collecting awards and recognition and money etc.) and until this egoistic attitude continues, solutions will not be implemented. World hunger and poverty can be solved overnight if we all were more "human"!
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          Apr 12 2012: Yes Meenakshi, you highlight some really important points. I think you would be surprised how many people cling to the illusion that our 'wealthy' countries are a kind of shangri la of happiness and prosperity for all. Few would be willing to acknowledge the true nature of deprivation in countries where there is plenty to go around. When it is unavoidable, many people look for ways to blame the victim. After all, the system cannot be at fault, it must be due to some sort of moral failing in the individual or their caregiver.

          I also found your other post interesting about some of the reasons people may feel inclined to invest in poverty.
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        Apr 13 2012: I 100% agree Joanne. I personally have seen many of the things you discussed. I am a teacher and I grew up in a foster home.

        Here is the problem. Over the years I saw children come in and out of my life who were abused and came to the home from parents who tried to strangle them, drown them, abused them in every possible way. They were under fed and under loved. I saw them leave and often times go back to the abusers. My point is When I thought out about it I would want to scream out HELL NO! I would and still at times want to run out and physically do something about it..it was the only answer my brain could come up with. Follow the kids home take there parents and "an eye for an eye" Well of course I was told this is not the right thing to do and could not be done. Well then what is to be done. When we look at the problem we realize its so deep rooted and each branching off root goes in another direction that it seems hopeless. That's what I mean by getting overwhelmed when we see an injustice that we feel helpless to do anything about.
        In order to address hunger in our own backyards look at all the different aspects we need to look at. Politics, economy, learned helplessness, Parent rights...the right to be a PARENT..aah!...that one right there seems so big that I feel a little overwhelmed..but it needs to be addressed no matter how bad it sounds from a political standpoint.
        One of things I love about TED is it sometimes forces me to think about things I really don't want to think about...its like online meditation with a a thousand gurus to keep me going.
        On this problem, yes it seems to big but if I think about it I realize I have to look at it the same way I look at it the same way I look at the seemingly overwhelming stack of papers on my desk. I have to start somewhere...I have to do something. I have to pick up the first paper and grade it or the problem wont get any smaller. And that first paper might be volunteering, counseling, talking to my local rep
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          Apr 13 2012: James, I really enjoyed reading through your reflections. As a fellow educator I also have seen quite a bit.

          Your comment brought to memory a student I had. His mom was an accountant. Yet, for all the degrees, and the intellectual ability she had, her parenting skills left much to be desired. Her child, my student, was dropped off in the park early mornings, to wait until school opened to eat breakfast. The student loved sweets, which they ate all day.....all the student's teeth were rotten....and I MEAN rotten....I looked inside the mouth myself after they cried from the pain....Lice was another issue.

          You don't know the pain and suffering I went through dealing with that child. And yet, my hands were tied.....No human government can make anyone change their "attitudes".....changing the person we are inside requires a higher source.

          I have found, personally, that a study of the bible has helped me to discover what is at the root of all the issues plaguing humankind. I am now involved in a bible educational work that helps people change who they are, and start getting results now......the long term results we'll see in the future.........

          Again, thank you for your wonderful, honest, reflection. It was a pleasure to read it.
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          Apr 13 2012: Hi James, that is one of the reasons I come on TED too, it makes us look at the world with our eyes open. I like to learn.

          I find it interesting, and pleasing, when I see people I have engaged with, perhaps even in a challenging way, discussing something with some one else, and I see them bringing things to that talk, from our earlier threads. I think I do the same thing myself. We all grow from the contact with each other, even some of the less positive contacts.

          Its great to hear your 'sharing' even though the story was sad. I wish I could protect each one of those vulnerable children.
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      Apr 10 2012: James, i agree, and i believe the answer is for every community to be empowered and compelled to feed their own kids. In a world where every community is empowered to sustainably develop and protect its own resources, this becomes possible.

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