Very often I hear people say how human beings as a species have a natural survival instinct – judging by the behaviour of young children, I find this extremely hard to believe. Often when running stock out down an aisle toward the cash desk, I’m amazed (and just plain fucking irritated) by the ankle-biters who stop and stare at the oncoming trolley like a rabbit returning a glare to a shining headlight, instead of getting clean out of the fucking way. It takes a typical parent to snap out of their semi-sonambulistic sight-shopping and pull the poor little bastard right out of the way. I mean shouldn’t an “inbuilt survival instinct” inspire the kid to take the appropriate action conducive to self-preservation? I’m sure this anti-survival instinct is very much conducive to the intentions of kiddy-fiddlers and murderers – nay, rather I think this is most likely the primary element that draws those sick fucks to the kids (as well as vice versa). It’s a manner of behaviour which screams “prey” or “victim” or whatever term you’d care to use….
Observing such pathology in the young , I find it amazing that we as a species managed to crawl out of the caves in one piece….
That used to be how nature weeded out those too stupid to survive. But now there are those pesky laws and safety regulations. Fie, I say!
TRUE ROCK LEE STYLE!
I think there is very little instinctual behavior in humans today. Babies seek food, warmth and comfort, but even those traits tend to disappear as their cognitive abilities develop. The price we pay for having the ability to reason is, I think, the need to learn everything–including the sense of self-preservation.
Babies don’t start out knowing fear. They learn it later, usually through the look on their parents’ face the first time they’re caught playing with the safety razors.
And they’re amazingly self-centered. The universe does revolve around them, and they don’t think that a cart barreling down on them is going to actually affect them in any way until a parent snatches them out of the way and yells “What are you doing?! Do you want to get hurt?!”
It’s a learning process. I submit you and I were not much different at that age.
Rebuttal to some of your points…
“Babies seek food, warmth and comfort, but even those traits tend to disappear as their cognitive abilities develop.”
I disagree. A desire for mental nourishment does not diminish the lust for physical nourishment (as far as my stomach tells me – it’s a pretty good authority).
“The price we pay for having the ability to reason is, I think, the need to learn everything–including the sense of self-preservation.”
That’s something of a mind-body split though, isn’t it? Instinct/intuition is nowt more than the integration of one’s knowledge into one’s whole being – reason’s the tool we use to aid our self-preservation (by that I mean both survival and flourishing). Besides, a crying baby is doing all in its power to aid its self-preservation – could this not be a reasoning based on the demands of its body?
“Babies don’t start out knowing fear. They learn it later, usually through the look on their parents’ face the first time they’re caught playing with the safety razors.”
The screaming child being pulled from the womb is an example of fear – it’s in a new environment with which it is unfamiliar and must adjust.
The quanta you’re using to illustrate the situation don’t reflect our natural instincts. Humans haven’t had to deal with cars for 300k years. We have had to deal with charging lions, wolves, other men, etc. This would be why for no apparent reason some kids will go into a howling fit when they see some animals, and some people for that matter. Loud offensive noise is the only defense a small animal has in most situations against a predator.
The reason we ‘survive’ is thus: We have no liters, but we can breed any time of year based on our dietary intake and fitness. We can carry our young and do not have to abandon them while procuring foodstuff. We can teach our young without having to force them to experience ‘biting the porcupine.’ We can say fire is hot and most won’t touch it. (Though some say emperical evidence be damned i want to burn.) We have killed one of every creature or organism we’ve ever come in contact with. We are nature’s most deadly predator, by effective genectic decendance. Even the most deadly creatures in nature have never come close to our killing sprees. Every flora and fauna in nature has fallen to us in some form or another. Which brings me to another point, Humans will and have attempted to eat everything. We even eat minerals inert matter that we’ve had refined to the point we can injest it, a trick only really pulled off by plants. We can adapt to our enviroment, adjusting over generations our skin pigments, skeletal structure, eating habits, sleep cycles, society structures. The only thing we’ve failed to do from a survival standpoint is reach any sort of equamity with other predator species. We lack efficient predators to keep our ‘herd’ in check, thus we overpopulate certain environments and cause imbalance.
Ok, i’m done. 😉
Ok, but is the adult who’s barreling down the aisle without stopping to think, “hey, that’s a small child standing in the aisle…I better slow down!” any smarter than the kid who stands there like a deer caught in the headlights?
That’s the thing – I’m pissed because I always have to adjust to accommodate the kid who will not take a damn hint! Sometimes it’s not even a case of the kid standing in the way glaring – it can be a slip of a child suddenly deciding to rush out at a certain moment , giving one scant time to react to the irritating little tyke.
Once I saw a parent walking his kid around in a leash and harness. All kids should have to wear harnesses in public.
Wonderful article. Very thought-provoking. I think the problem doesn’t just lie in the parents alone, but the child as well — I can certainly atest to that. A parent can talk his/her mouth off, but a kid can do nothing. It’s a two-party situation, I guess. :/