You’ve undoubtedly heard this before:
over and over and expecting different results.
I’m old enough now that I can attest to the truth of that saying from both observation and personal experience. The antidote, of course, is to recognize behavior patterns and interrupt them — provided you have the clarity of mind to do so. It’s not easy, and it runs against the human tendency to resist change and protect the ego, but it can be done. As is also often said, admitting you have a problem is the first step.
A related but much more insidious problem involves the repetition of behaviors over the course of generations. These generations may be literal, coming along every twenty years or so, or they may be developmental and occur with greater frequency. In each case, however, new generations are predisposed to repeat experiences precisely because they arrive on the scene oblivious to what has gone before.
There are two main reasons for the perpetuation of such generational blindness. The first is the failing of previous generations to pass along useful knowledge, or to make knowledge available and digestible in ways that are accessible and relevant. The second is the failing of new generations to recognize that a distinction must be made between what is new to them (as a group or as individuals), and what is actually new.
For example, at some point most people becomes fascinated with their own sexuality, often to the point of distraction. Yet no one would argue that this process for any individual sheds new light on the human condition, or represents a break from the past. Coming to terms with one’s own desires and biological essence is exciting, intoxicating, and so utterly commonplace as to be mundane. That such newness can feel transcendent to the individual or group is clear, even as it is demonstrably not new. (Without ‘going there’, try conceptualizing your parents or grandparents as the sexual being you believe yourself to be. Because they are/were.) [ Read more ]