By Mike Darwin
“You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good bye.
Teach your children well,
Their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.
And you, of tender years,
Can’t know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth so you and they won’t die.
Counter Melody To Above Verse:
Can you hear and do you care and
Cant you see we must be free to
Teach your children what you believe in.
Make a world that we can live in.”
-Crosby, Stills & Nash (slightly amended)
Recently, on the New Cryonet, the questions were asked, “Does anyone know if Marce (Johnson) raised her children as cryonicists–or if they were introduced to it when they were older? I was wondering when her involvement started in relation to her children’s age and thought someone on this list may be able to answer.” I am forced to respond with, “Well, exactly how would you go about doing that? and, “What do you mean by “raised her (or your) children as cryonicists?”‘
Marcelon Johnson, circa 1979.
Most cryonicists, with or without children (and I speak with both knowledge and authority on this point), define raising their children as cryonicists variously as sitting down and telling them about cryonics, or doing that and “leading by example,” by being signed up. And to that I respond, “Give me a fucking break; are you serious???????”
A normal part of human cognitive development, and a very important one, is to learn to lie. Children who do not learn to deceive, and to do so cleverly, have something wrong with their brains, and they fail to be able function either intellectually or socially (you can find a long list of articles detailing the importance of lying and deceit in normal mental and social development here: http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/simpleSearch.jsp;jsessionid=vUf4k+jE9YQVr7sWdgKHPw__.ericsrv003?_pageLabel=ERICSearchResult&_urlType=action&newSearch=true&ERICExtSearch_Related_0=EJ402886).
Stealing is also an extension, of or an actualization of lying and deceit. If this seems evil or bad, just imagine the life a person who cannot or will not lie by omission, or by the use of “white lies,” to avoid hurting others?!?! On a deeper level, the skill of lying is a prerequisite for fantasizing, and thus for creating “alternative versions” of reality – the very essence of storytelling and creativity – to be able construct a reality you want, rather than the one that exists. That’s the up-side of deceit.
The down-sides are appallingly obvious to (most) adults, and parents are uniformly horrified when their little “innocent” tells a whopper, or deliberately tries to mislead them at the tender age of 2 or 3. Some truly stupid parents will respond to this behavior by gently admonishing their little darling that, “It isn’t nice to lie, and we mustn’t do that.” And if such is the response to subsequent lies and acts of deciet, the end product is a monster. As it turns out, molding moral behavior requires intense hard work using a variety of tools: reasoning, explanation, reward, punishment, and emotional manipulation.
All of these tools have to be used in the face of biologically programmed and imperative behaviors of this kind. Parents who tell their kids not be promiscuous, and then hand them a box of condoms or pills are idiots – if they expect responsible behavior to result from a such a perfunctory and meager exercise. And those who expect to get results solely. or even mostly, by the expedient of leading by example, are even greater idiots. For one thing, most of the real, hard work of leading by example is necessarily invisible, because your kids don’t get to see you wrestling with the temptation to bed the babe who is flirting with you at work, or to forego a late night trip to the casino, or for that matter, generally not indulge yourself in any other “vice” or behavior that is at odds with your core values – and there are many such behaviors and vices – and we most of us wrestle with them often, if not daily.
Ooops, I just did it, I used that word “values,” and I then compounded that sin by adding the adjective “core” to it. Babies are born with urges, drives and needs – cravings for things that, to a great extent, are inventoried under the “physiological” heading of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs Everything on the pyramid that builds on those basic drives is, to a greater or lesser degree, moderated and determined by inculcation; not by sweet reason alone, but by sweet reason coupled to a host of other powerful, behavior modifying tools.
I was raised as Roman Catholic in the 1950s and 1960s and the principal “high order” intellectual instructional tool used to accomplish that end in young children was the 1941 revision of the Baltimore Catechism http://www.catholicity.com/baltimore-catechism/ This is the opening of Lesson One:
“1. Who made us?
God made us.
In the beginning, God created heaven and earth. (Genesis 1:1)
2. Who is God?
God is the Supreme Being, infinitely perfect, who made all things and keeps them in existence.
In him we live and move and have our being. (Acts 17:28)
3. Why did God make us?
God made us to show forth His goodness and to share with us His everlasting happiness in heaven.
Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for those who love him. (I Corinthians 2:9)
4. What must we do to gain the happiness of heaven?
To gain the happiness of heaven we must know, love, and serve God in this world.
Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth; where the rust and moth consume and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven; where neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. (Matthew 6:19-20)
5. From whom do we learn to know, love, and serve God?
We learn to know, love, and serve God from Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who teaches us through the Catholic Church.
I have come a light into the world that whoever believes in Me may not remain in darkness. (John 12:46)
6. Where do we find the chief truths taught by Jesus Christ through the Catholic Church?
We find the chief truths taught by Jesus Christ through the Catholic Church in the Apostles’ Creed.
He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me. (Luke 10:16)
7. Say the Apostles’ Creed.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.”
A nice spot for pleasant outdoor lunch and to reflect on the comparative viability of ideologies; the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (Храм Христа Спасителя) on the bank of the Moskva River, a few blocks west of the Kremlin.
Get the picture? Beyond that, my behavior as a Catholic was reinforced in countless ways, and I do mean countless. The words I used when in distress were the Catholic-prescribed words of prayer and comfort, and the words I used when frustrated or angry were, in fact, words, that shamed and reminded me that I had violated, or been untrue to my faith, and thus to my fundamental morality: “thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” A few years ago, I tried to explain this to a Russian Oligarch and a Russian Intellectual as we lunched on an expansive plaza adjoining the magnificently restored Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (Храм Христа Спасителя) in Moscow. They were incredulous, and found it all very amusing. Well, laugh they did, but alas, Soviet Communism is now almost 20 years gone, and the Catholic Church, of which the Greek Orthodox Church is a part, is till here and prospering after 2,000 years. Especially ironic, and a point I declined (deceived) to mention, is that the 24 carat gold clad onion domes of the cathedral, in whose figurative shadow we dined, had just been re-gilded at their expense, using Russian Federation tax dollars!
Maybe the Baltimore Catechism sickens you, and all the other “liberal minded people” who believe reason reigns supreme in instructing the young in moral, or if you prefer (and I don’t) “purely ethical” behavior? If so, and you have children, or you influence how children are raised, you are in for a sorry, sorry time of it. Trying to modify the sexual urge in an adolescent with reason alone, is like trying to stop a bulldozer with a toothpick (and usually, the same can be said for adults, as well). If that is your position, it’s unfortunate, because that is the kind of approach, albeit not the kind of content, that is required to input any moral system into a developing human being when such a moral system is at odds with that present in his culture, as a whole.
Pay special attention to the last part of the last sentence above, because it is a goodly part of the take home message of this piece. Most children who receive lousy moral instruction and control at home will, in fact, grow up to be reasonably functional human beings. That is so because what they don’t get at home, they will get from their peers and their environment. In general, bad behavior has wicked social consequences, and the result is that people, absent programmed values and morals from parents, will nonetheless be programmed by the morals and values of the culture they develop in. Of course, the catch is, this culture is, from a cryonics perspective, morally bankrupt, and often actively evil.
Additionally, most people who obtain their values and morals in this way function in a fog. If you actually sit them down and ask them specific questions about what they should do in specific situations, they aren’t usually “wrong,” they are clueless. They simply stumble around, give an inane and meaningless answer, giggle, or just morosely say, “How should I know?” The last answer, BTW, is, in fact the correct one! How could they possibly know, since they have no clearly defined set of values?
Did Marce Johnson raise her kids as cryonicists? Sure she did, by most cryonicists’ definitions. Marce was a Unitarian who believed reason and intellectual freedom were the most important values she could give to her children, not respect for the values and moral decisions of others, and not a deep and abiding respect for the sanctity of life and the imperative to preserve it at all costs. No, those were “optional” things that you got to pick and choose in life. The result was 8 spineless, immoral brats, regardless of their current age.
How effective is conventional religious instruction/inculcation in shaping the religious affiliation of children in adulthood in the current highly secular and highly ideologically competitive environment? The numbers, according a recent Pew Forum Report (http://religions.pewforum.org/reports) are:
“More than one-quarter of American adults (28%) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion – or no religion at all. If change in affiliation from one type of Protestantism to another is included, 44% of adults have either switched religious affiliation, moved from being unaffiliated with any religion to being affiliated with a particular faith, or dropped any connection to a specific religious tradition altogether.”
And what about Catholics? How well does the Baltimore Catechism hold up? Well, that’s not an easy question to answer, because it got revised, and Catholicism in general was radically re-morphed after Vatican II (1962-1965). Catholicism got more liberal and less “rigid,” and that may explain why that while the percentage of Roman Catholics in the US population has remained constant since ~1970, the number leaving the church has increased astronomically. To again quote the Pew study:
“Another example of the dynamism of the American religious scene is the experience of the Catholic Church. Other surveys – such as the General Social Surveys, conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago since 1972 – find that the Catholic share of the U.S. adult population has held fairly steady in recent decades at around 25%. What this apparent stability obscures, however, is the large number of people who have left the Catholic Church. Approximately one-third of the survey respondents who say they were raised Catholic no longer describe themselves as Catholic. This means that roughly 10% of all Americans are former Catholics. These losses, however, have been partly offset by the number of people who have changed their affiliation to Catholicism (2.6% of the adult population) but more importantly by the disproportionately high number of Catholics among immigrants to the U.S. The result is that the overall percentage of the population that identifies as Catholic has remained fairly stable.”
So, the best anyone can hope for, even if they employ a highly ordered and well established approach to raising their children to adhere to a particular ideology, or religious belief, is somewhere in the range of 30-40%! And keep in mind that that doesn’t imply ADHERENCE, nor does it imply ADHERENCE IN THE FACE OF DURESS. Most Christians, Muslims, Unitarians, Hindus, Sikhs or Communists.. really aren’t very good at practicing what they preach (and for this, we can be thankful) and most would turn on a dime and recant if a gun was held to their head and they were told to choose their values over their lives. Arguably, that’s how it should be as long as your values diverge from, and fail to support, the imperative of your personal survival (the “physiological” and “safety” categories of needs that are near the base of Maslow’s hierarchy will hold sway in a pinch). Finally, it isn’t simple, even when the values you hold do support your personal survival, because the world is a complicated place, and things are rarely black or white. Here, I need have recourse to examples that bear directly upon values and morals driven choices in cryonics.
Currently, there is no moral or ethical code in cryonics – none (See the end for definitions of these terms as used herein). There really aren’t even any clearly defined values, and here is a practical example: A cryonics patient, or cryonics patients, are under attack, and you are the responsible cryonics organization’s CEO, or an Officer or Director. What are the limits of your responsibility and what are your obligations; to yourself and to the patient(s)? If the authorities come to you and say that you will either give over the patient(s), or they’ll strip you of your livelihood (i.e., take your medical or law license away, get your employer to discharge you…) is it permissible for you to hand over the patient(s)? What if they threaten your family, and/or other uninvolved, and completely “innocent” people? Is it OK, then? What if they threaten to imprison you, and even put the death penalty on the table, or they offer to spare some patients (those that may matter most to you, personally) if you just given them the one(s) they want? These are not hypothetical questions – they actually happened to me, and to the other Alcor Directors in the opening months of 1987.
Let me frame the question a bit differently, in order to show you just how dangerous having no defined values and no accompanying morals is. Suppose that the state comes to you and says, “We will shut you down unless you give us control over your patients.” What is the right thing to do? What principles or values will you use to guide you in making such a decision? The answer is NONE. We aren’t even “making it up as we go,” because that would imply that we keep a record our actions, and refer to these decisions as precedents. In fact, we don’t even do this!
And this situation isn’t hypothetical either, because when the Cemetery Board came down on the Cryonics Institute (CI) , CI, and thus the American Cryonics Society (ACS), decided to surrender control of their patients to the state. Now, it is the laws and jurists of the state of Michigan that determine the conditions under which a patient can be removed from a cryostat at CI, and be relocated elsewhere, not the CEO or the Board of either CI, or ACS. If you want to understand the practical implications of this, you can go to http://www.bhsj.org/forms/disinterment%20and%20reinterment.pdf and to http://law.onecle.com/michigan/333-health/mcl-333-2853.html and read what you find there. It isn’t pretty.
A consequence of this is that anyone who steps into a position of leadership in cryonics does so with no rudder to guide them, and no set of standards to which they can be held accountable, or conversely, to which they can turn to defend themselves against unreasonable expectations, or worse, unreasonable charges of misconduct. In particular, the man who steps into the Presidency of Alcor is a man who has entered a country with no laws, but which is nevertheless populated by judges and jurors – each of whom will decide his fate on unknown, unknowable, shifting, and all too often completely arbitrary grounds. The Directors, who are for all intents and purposes anonymous, never suffer the consequences of this grotesque situation (unless they err by becoming visible in their personal decision making, or are otherwise conspicuous), even as they select victim after victim for the rack and the chopping block.
If you want to “raise your children as cryonicists,” you must necessarily first create a system of values, moral and ethics (in that order), and then generate and use the tools required to communicate and enforce adherence to them in a world that is hostile to cryonics, and to its values and goals. Fail to do that, and you will very likely fail not only to “raise your children as cryonicists,” but to raise them at all.” Be assured however, that others will do that for you.
Moral = Webster’s Dictionary defines “moral” as: Relating to, dealing with, or capable of making the distinction between right or wrong conduct – Principles, standards habits with respect to right or wrong in conduct.
Values = Webster’s Dictionary defines “values” as: The social principles, goals or standards held or accepted by an individual, a class, a society, etc.
Right = Webster’s Dictionary defines “right” as: In accordance with fact, reason, justice, law, and morality; correct in thought and action; Synonyms for right include: correct, honest, ethical, just, true, accurate, precise, suitable, fitting, appropriate, proper.
Wrong = Webster’s Dictionary defines “right” as: Contrary to fact or reason, crooked, twisted, immoral, improper; Synonyms for wrong include: dishonest, mistaken , criminal, unethical, sinful, unsuitable, inappropriate improper, incorrect, injurious, harmful, damaging, unjust.
Ethics = A reason based, cumulative system of decision making based upon values and values. Ethics are built upon one or a few basic principles and require that we be thorough, honest, and comprehensive in making statements about right and wrong. Ethics is about building the kind of world we want to live in and developing a consistent process by which to achieve this. Ethics are an advanced expression of morality.