Archive for January, 2013

We each have our own ‘language of life’ that we struggle to have others understand. We are all so different, not only in physical appearance but what lies beneath our skin. And yet in many other ways we are alike and through these similarities we are connected. But it is the differences between us that I find most intriguing. Not the small stuff like why I love books and you love, well whatever it is you love. I mean the odd, sometimes quirky and maybe sometimes the disgusting or even evil and criminal things that humans do.

We all start off our lives as innocents, then depending on many different circumstances we are shaped by events and the people in our lives. The whole nature versus nurture debate springs to mind, are we essentially the product of our environment or can we blame the way we are on our upbringing? or is it just the fact that we are all so very different and are affected uniquely by the perceptions of our internal and external worlds?

We are surrounded each moment by sensations and perceptions. The sounds, smells, tastes and feel of life; birds chirping in the morning sunlight as the aroma of breakfast cooking wafts on the breeze that gently caresses my skin are all wonderful sensations both in  present time and as a memory….for me that is. For others, perhaps you, the sound of birds chirping might be irritating, the sunlight’s glare too harsh, the smell of food may be (for whatever reason) nauseating and the breeze might have you reaching for your jacket. The difference between what I feel as to what you might feel is due to perception. There are also those who seek much more stimulation of their senses and are not fulfilled by the simple pleasures in life.

Perception helps us interpret what is going on around us and inside us. But getting back to the bigger issues that separate the law abiding from the law breaker, the good from the evil. Could it be that for some the lure of breaking a law (civil or moral) is compulsive and purely sensation seeking? Perhaps this addiction to sensation seeking is comparable to drug and alcohol addiction.

When I look at thrill seekers who are “addicted” to activities that fall within the law I cheer them on. People who jump out of perfectly good planes, bungy jump or go white water rafting appear to me to have a death wish but they fascinate me. As crazy as they appear to me, a part of me wishes I was fearless enough to give it a try. And I believe this is where perception comes in to play a crucial role. I perceive these thrill seekers as reckless. They might perceive me as inflexible and boring. Which one of us is right?? It all depends on perception. My perception of life is (in my view) pretty clear cut. I know what I like and don’t like and I certainly know the difference between good and evil and right from wrong. This is most likely a combination of what I have learned from my experiences of the nature and nurture aspects. Luckily for me my family and environment helped shape me into a (in my opinion) respectable citizen (and probably over cautious). Unfortunately not everyone is so lucky and due to very complex forces, often out of their control their sensations become battered and bruised. Sometimes they no longer see that there is a difference between pleasure and pain, right or wrong, good and evil.

Am I attempting to make excuses for law breakers and criminals? Not on your life! But I am trying to make sense of the seemingly senseless acts that criminals inflict on others (human and animal) every day. The law does not punish addicted alcoholics for drinking alcohol, therefore a criminal is more than just an addicted seeker of sensations, otherwise they too would be treated as other addicts. Criminals may be at the mercy of their urges and unable to feel any compassion or empathy for their victims however it seems that those in charge of “corrective” services are doing nothing about trying to “correct” this. If we as a society are going to continue to lock up even the very worst criminals and expect them to have magically transformed on release, then maybe it is time to look at rehabilitation from the angle of the perpetrator. Maybe it is possible to learn the criminals ‘language of life’. How about exploring further their apparent addiction to sensations seeking and trying to discover at what point the innocent child becomes the future criminal.