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CRUELTY AND KINDNESS

 
 
Setanta
 
Reply Thu 18 Jun, 2009 08:07 am
I listened last night to a radio interview of a woman in England, a university professor who was discussing cruelty. She asserts that the most common reason for cruelty is not sadism, but callousness. That got me thinking about the origin of love and cruelty in human relations. It occurs to me that there is a survival utility in kindness, and in loving--but that there is a survival utility in callousness, as well.

Those who love their offspring and their near relations would tend to act in a manner conducive to the survival of these people, which in most circumstances would be conducive to their own survival. If you love your children, see that they are as well fed as possible, and teach them as much as you are able about survival, you will be training up someone to take over the survival tasks that you will be less able to perform as you age.

At the same time, callousness has its utility, too. Loving everyone, indiscriminately, will not necessarily enhance your survival potential, because it might lead you to share scarce resources with those whose actions don't contribute to the survival of you and your group. At the same time, a certain callousness is required to make a decision such to leave grandma behind when she can't keep up, and slowing down to accommodate her might risk missing a gathering "window of opportunity," or the migratory passage of game animals. In historic times, people interested in ethnology have recorded examples of "primitve" bands leaving the old or infirm behind with a fire, some fuel, and hide to cover them, and then went on about their business, which business was finding in a timely manner the resources necessary to the survival of the band.

Whaddayathink, Sports Fans?
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kuvasz
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Jun, 2009 09:10 am
@Setanta,
"Cruel To Be Kind"

Babe I'm sorry but I just can't stand the pain
If you're leaving baby,
Let me say one last thing
You tell me I don't care
But you know it just ain't true
I got news
That I'm still in love with you

Girl, haven't you been around me
Long enough to know
Oh, that I need your love
And I won't let go

[Chorus]
Oh, you don't have to be cruel to be kind
You break my heart you hurt me so
Kick me out because I ain't leaving
Oh, you don't have to be cruel to be kind
I'm feeling that you got me wrong
All I want is you back where you belong

Yeah, yeah, yeah

Forget about the things
That we could and should have done
'Cause it's not too late, no no
Ain't the best still yet to come
What we have is a chance to start over
And make it anew
So trust what you feel
Don't hide from what's real
Every word I say is real

Girl, haven't I told you this a thousand times before
Oh, that I don't want you going through that door

[Repeat Chorus]

No contest
(I'm telling you yeah)
No question
('Cause I need you)
Believe me, I ain't leaving
No contest
(I'm telling you girl)
No question
('Cause I need you, yeah)
Believe me, I ain't leaving

You don't have to be cruel to be kind
You break my heart you hurt me so
Kick me out because I ain't leaving
Oh, why must you be cruel to be kind
I'm feeling that you got me wrong
All I want is you back yeah yeah

[Repeat Chorus]

Baby don't do the things you do
Baby don't hurt me like you do
Baby don't hurt me, hurt me

Don't go..........
0 Replies
 
panzade
 
  2  
Reply Thu 18 Jun, 2009 09:15 am
Well I do my best to understand dear,
But you still mystify, and I want to know why.
I pick myself up off the ground
To have you knock me back down again and again!
And when I ask you to explain, you say

You've gotta be
Cruel to be kind in the right measure,
Cruel to be kind it's a very good sign,
Cruel to be kind means that I love you,
Baby, you've gotta be cruel to be kind...
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Thu 18 Jun, 2009 09:56 am
Interesting topic. I was thinking along the same lines just yesterday...

I was working at my computer and heard a "thunk", which is not an unusal sound when you live with an 8 year old. But this thunk was followed by a frantic commotion of birdsong. I went outside to investigate and found two robins acting completely crazy; hopping, squawking, nutty birds. Then I noticed a young bird sitting dazed on my window sill.

I rounded up my pets, took them inside, warned Mo away from the bird and sat back to watch what would happen. Clearing the yard of immediate danger seemed to settle down the two adult robins. I'd read that if the other birds leave an injured one behind it is because they know it isn't going to make it. If the other birds left I was going to take the little bird to the bird sanctuary.

After about a half hour I heard another round of frantic birdsong and I watched as the injured bird hopped around a bit then flew away.

I guess the older birds were trying to distract any dangers when the little bird was at it's most vulnerable.

Human nature isn't really anything more than nature.
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Jun, 2009 10:13 am
@boomerang,
Quote:
Human nature isn't really anything more than nature.
Interesting observation, is there any alternative?
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Jun, 2009 10:52 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

I listened last night to a radio interview of a woman in England, a university professor who was discussing cruelty. She asserts that the most common reason for cruelty is not sadism, but callousness. That got me thinking about the origin of love and cruelty in human relations. It occurs to me that there is a survival utility in kindness, and in loving--but that there is a survival utility in callousness, as well.



I concur.

However, I think we need to define cruelty and callousness.

When I think of how I need to deal with some things that have just got to be done (or not done) I think of the word pragmatic.

I don't think anyone I know would describe me as a cruel person, but I'm sure the cord callous would come up.

What is a callous but something that protects a vital piece of us physically and emotionally?

Like a callous on my hand or foot, it only forms where needed so I don't limp when walking over rough spots, or so that I can hold onto sharp things without bleeding. It doesn't cover my entire hand or foot, and the majority of me doesn't have need for this protective callous at all.

Same for how I am emotionally with others, and how I choose to express my sympathy and/or concern.
Most of me is open to expressing concern and willingness to embrace emotionally someone with problems.

However, I've developed callouses where I've been duped in the past, or have learned that showing concern is going to lead to me eventually become responsible to solving someone elses dilema.

IRL, I've noticed that those who have called me "mean" only do so because they have been the irritant that built up the callous on me, and it's a rude awakening to them when they can no longer penetrate it.
0 Replies
 
panzade
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Jun, 2009 11:06 am
@Setanta,
Set
Quote:
She asserts that the most common reason for cruelty is not sadism, but callousness. That got me thinking about the origin of love and cruelty in human relations.

...and you got me thinking of Buchenwald, My Lai and Abu Ghraib where the perceptions of ubermensch about untermensch led to a callousness that allowed the most inhumane actions to be considered the norm.
0 Replies
 
snood
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Jun, 2009 11:07 am
Beddy in-ter-es-ting...
I have a lot of scattered thoughts on the topic, so I might share a little later if I can collect them into something decipherable. but I will share a little conversation that has to do with kindness I had the other night.
I attend a 12 step group regularly. A member of one of the groups I attend, an older ( I think Bobbi is probably about 68 -69) lady whose 'sharing' I always like to hear, said something that stuck with me. she was asking me to pray for another member, because "he's such a dear person, and he's been bouncing in and out of here for years". You see, this guy (who happened to be in attendance that night) is in particularly bad shape now, and she's seen him like this before. I told her I would, and said "Bobbi, you're getting to be an old softie" because Bobbi has been known not to mince words and be a little well, callous sometimes.
She said, kind of worriedly "I know it! the older I get, the softer I get! And they used to call me The Dragon Lady around here!" I gave her a hug and told her - "you know, there are worse things..."

so, Set - mebbe youse are just gettin to be an old softie, even bringin this subject up?
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Jun, 2009 11:10 am
Cool beans . . .

Boom, you're thinking that human emotions aren't necessarily new or unique?

Chai, part of my point is that callousness is selective, as opposed to consistent brutality.

Thanks guys.
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Jun, 2009 08:09 pm
@Setanta,
I think you're essentially right.

I also agree with what I think Chai wrote: Callousness is not cruelty.

While there is, as you put it, a survival utility to altruism, unfettered altruism is not likely to insure the propagation of an individual's genes, and so some discretion is necessary.

If hard wired for altruism, there needs to be a hardwired trait that enables the requisite discretion: callousness.

I think cruelty requires intention. Callousness is indifference.

Another question flowing from this topic is whether or not cruelty has survival utility.


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