What Are You Doing?

If you notice the date of the post before this, you, notice a three-year gap. I promise the next post won’t be another three years. No, it had nothing to do with Covid. I was completing my Ph.D. Yes, you will be subjected to parts of my dissertation.

I have wondered what separates Humans from Non-Human animals. Short answer: A LOT! Human beings are capable of self-analysis, mental time travel, imagination, abstract reasoning, cultural establishment, and morality. Over the last quarter-century, the dominant tendency in comparative cognitive psychology has been to emphasize the similarities between human and nonhuman minds and to downplay the differences. You will be surprised to discover that Charles Darwin cited morality as the main difference between humans and non-human animals. That’s right, the Chuck that led to the idea of survival of the fittest is the same Chuck who cited Morality as the main difference.

Let’s talk about morality: What is it? Morality is the differentiation of decisions and actions between those that are as proper (right) and those that are improper (wrong). That’s it, morality is knowing what is proper and improper and then acting. Let me put it this way, you walk out of Wal-Mart and notice they didn’t charge you for the chicken, you know the right thing to do. Did you go back and pay for the chicken? Morality is action. Doing the wrong thing when you know the right thing, is an immoral decision.

One thing we do share with our non-human friends, we are social. Humans are relational animals, we have a natural tendency to live in a society (sociability). We establish “one-to-one” relationships with others and form bonds with social groups to which we belong. Interpersonal relationships involve reciprocal knowledge, attraction, communication, dialogue, and the possibility of collaboration or cooperation.

What do you get when you combine Morality with Society? ETHICS happens. Specifically, you get relational ethics. Relational ethics is knowing what is the proper and improper way to treat someone and then acting. Think of it this way. Morals are an internal compass telling you what is right and wrong. Ethics is an external (society) compass of what ACTIONS are right or wrong. Let me put it this way, you walk out of Wal-Mart and notice that someone has a dead battery and you have jumper cables, you know the right thing to do. Did you go back and help? Relational Ethics is action toward one another. Doing the wrong thing when you know the right thing, is an unethical decision.

I am a father of 5. I try to be a moral and ethical man. I parent through example, meaning I demonstrate the behavior I want my children to learn. ACTIONS speak louder than words, meaning, I go back and pay for the chicken. If we walk out of Wal-Mart and notice that someone has a dead battery, we help, then I take my son to his basketball game. Petty obvious, any good parent knows this, but what about my duty to my children and spouse.

As a father and husband, Relational Ethics speaks directly to my duty to my wife and children. When I ask husbands/fathers what is their role. Almost every answer includes security. When I ask wives/mothers what they expect from their spouses, the answer almost always includes security.

What is security? It is the state of being free from danger or threat. I and my staff see people, young and old, who didn’t benefit from the state of being free from danger or threat. A sense of security is a fundamental need for human survival. The unpredictable challenges of life—such as hunger and violence can create overwhelming levels of stress and fear that can result in severe physiological and mental health disorders. Security helps to create a sense of control over uncertainties and potential dangers so that individuals can live freely and safely in a chaotic world.

In general, a responsive, loving, and persistent caregiver tends to help develop a secure sense of attachment within the child, who is, in turn, likely to develop an internal perception of the self as confident, competent, and worthy of love and attention. In contrast, a neglectful, distant, and inconsistent caregiver is likely to develop an insecure attachment within the child, who may come to view the world as a dangerous place and grow up feeling unwanted, unworthy, or incompetent.

What you need to know. What you do at Walmart is important but what you do at home is critical.