by Day Brown
AT THE OPENING of The Golden Sayings of Epictetus, he notes how young artists practice with the eye, musicians the ear, athletes the body — and wonders if it is not possible to strengthen the mind before taking on the issues of philosophy. After all, weight lifters do not start out with the most massive objects.
So, he says, put these questions about the nature of the divine aside, and deal only with simpler issues to acquire the skill to think clearly. He also advises proper diet and exercise.
And now, after all this time, the sciences like neurology, brain chemistry, sociology, and psychology show he was correct: It is possible to increase the power of the mind and deal with these great issues more rationally.
A lot of this insight comes from recent studies on childhood development. But we also see how trauma and other environmental effects can preclude maximal mental development — which many of us now struggle with.
So then, after Epictetus’ example above, is it possible to design a community, that, from the outset, is designed to maximize the mental powers of each of the children raised in it — and minimize the risk of trauma?
Don’t we use car seats for kids even though only a few have been harmed? I can’t, for instance, prove organic vegetables are necessary, but studies have shown the developmental damage some kids suffer that traces back to the contamination of the food supply by organophosphates. Because the FDA and other agencies have been corrupted, we can’t depend on government to solve this problem: Citizens in every community must oversee food production ourselves.
Medical science also reveals how exercise increases blood flow, that then washes toxins out of the brain for clearer thinking. If all you do is sit at a PC, brain function may be far from optimal — maybe even neurotic denial will kick in as you read these lines, and you’ll find some reason not to change your lifestyle. In any case, we have a clue as to why the kids that went to one room schoolhouses — and then walked home — scored better than those now who ride the bus.
Epidemiology shows how, in large schools, pathogens mutate going from one kid to the next, which keeps the “bugs” in constant circulation. And studies on autism show how viruses can trigger its onset. But in small rural schools, with only a few hundred kids, the pathogens run out of new victims as the student body acquires immunity. The result, seen in the small schools of my neck of the Ozark woods, is attendance over 95%.
The cities are designed for adults. The suburbs were set up to provide “each man his castle.” They all inherit law codes and customs from early civilizations that don’t much look like our world, which is driven by electronic media manipulated by those motivated by money and power for the “in crowd.”
Hominids evolved in villages, and so kids are born with sets of instinctive behavior patterns that still work in villages. Not cities. There are no strangers with candy in a village. Kids do not need to be brought up fearful, and that expands creativity and a sense of freedom. Villages are usually homogeneous too — no ethnic conflicts.
The posted national rate for autism is 1:155. Amish kids are still raised on home grown vegetables and go to small schools. Their autism rate is 1:15,000. This fact is never mentioned in the corporate media which profits so handsomely selling us the sugary cereals, junk food, and soda our kids are raised on. That’s another point few will consider.
We can’t reform the world, just that small part each of us lives in. This article is not meant to be a well defined plan, merely an outline of some of the dangers and opportunities we need to be thinking about. Hominid adults evolved in villages too; which all had kids. It was the responsibility for the kids that primarily motivated the adults to be adult and responsible.
We have strayed so far from healthy ways that our women are bringing fewer and fewer children into the world. If women do not have kids, then, as we can see, they will make children of their men — in a self-reinforcing cycle of decline and despair.