We had been puzzled and totally frustrated, in our exhaustive and unsuccessful attempts to divine some reason, for some individuals’ consistent and eternal preference, for retrogressive and atavistic points of view, over modern empirically proven, science and socially demonstrated fact. This dynamic, consistently seen in the contested issues of climate change, abortion rights, gun regulation, racial equality and immigration, observably, appears to be shared in some sort of retrogressive consensus. This phenomenon, understandably, appears to be puzzling, to most contemporaneously informed citizens. Yet, we can announce that we have happened upon, what we believe, is the answer to the puzzle, to be revealed following a brief, relevant and necessary, description of history.

Any American schoolchild and adult, familiar with our Nation’s past, knows that meteorology, as a science, is a rather modern discipline. In history, humans observed the natural phenomena, and attempted to predict the onset of rain or its absence, by observing the sky in conjunction with the wind and clouds. It was usually hit or miss. However, no one was scientifically aware of the nature of the natural phenomena, nor, especially, its dynamics. Humans prayed for rain and fair weather, in accordance with their own ethnic fashion. Among the best known of mankind’s supplications for rain, is the ancient Hopi Indian Rain Dance. Weather was traditionally considered, by our antecedents, to be a divine phenomenon, and at times, believed to be an omen, of the pleasure or displeasure of the Gods. [There was then no concern regarding the present issue of climate change.]

Any reader of literature or history, would be aware of the plethora of religious or superstitious beliefs and fears, relative to the phenomenon of childbirth. The protection or guidance of the Divinity, or the Natural Spirits, were traditionally invoked, seeking the birth of a properly formed and healthy child, and the survival of a healthy mother. In many disparate cultures and ethnos, special prayers, incantations and even magical or holy objects, were employed to shoo away the evil spirits, and safeguard the newborn infant and mother. [ Abortion was not a presenting issue.]

In the early history of our Nation, people lived in more spread out and remote venues. There were no protective institutions, such as the police department, nor the instant availability of emergent assistance. Guns were necessary ingredients in a family’s protection from the beasts of the forest, and from the threat of marauders. Men, women and older children, by plain necessity, had to learn to use firearms. Stories of the earlier periods of the development of our Nation, always featured the element of protective firearms. [Gun regulation was not among society’s concerns].

Particular periods of American history, evinced such immoral and shamefully accepted, practices as the eviction of Native Americans from their ancestral homes, and their removal to territories, way out west, which were barely arable, remote, windy and desolate, the institution of the enslavement of black people as agricultural workers, approved by society and the “good book,” and their subsequent treatment as second class citizens ( a despicable and immoral practice, still in the process of amelioration) and, lastly, the Acts preventing the immigration of Asians to our country. These institutionally immoral practices affected the mindset of the average citizen. The opposition to immigration, eternally based upon false fears and propaganda, concerning the “other” were, and still are, a travesty, and a valid basis of a critical charge of hypocrisy, against a Nation composed of immigrants and their progeny.  [“Other people” were generally considered, less equal].

Thoughts regarding these issues, in contention in modern times, led us to the relatively recent history, as set forth above, concerning those selected subjects (among others). Further, in the process of attempting to discover the fundamental basis, or etiology, of opposition on the part of folks who reject reason and rational thought and progress, in favor of atavistic beliefs and attitudes, we have come to the realization that their fixed views, adhered to, like lichens, may have proven acceptable, at some time, in the contextual past history, as cited, of our nation.

If we believed in reincarnation (transmigration of souls, or “metempsychosis”), we could make an easy job of it and conclude that these folks are the transmigrated souls of their forebears, who comprise the source of these ancient beliefs; but we do not believe in “souls” nor, in their purported reincarnation. But we needed an explanation for these outmoded, outre’, but, at one time, traditionally, American, concerns.

We realized that the only logical answer was simply, the one of social transmission. These retrogressive attitudes and beliefs, analogous to the introduction of young children, to a particular religion, are articulated and passed along in one’s family or social milieu, perhaps, by an elder, for whom such beliefs and attitudes, at one time, had the basis of contextual reality. The more susceptible one is to oral or bygone history, the more one is affected and convinced, by the transmission of outmoded attitudes and obsolete concerns. The great English, empirical philosopher, John Locke, declared that man is born with a clean slate (“tabula rasa”), and that all knowledge is learned [including outmoded, or stale, concerns].

Our (promised) answer to the posed question, then, is that, somehow, people who are recalcitrant in their acceptance of modernity, have learned, and retained, their atavistic lessons from the past, by way of ideological reincarnation, delivered, not from some transmigration of souls, but from the anachronistic, obsolete, lessons of a living and loving Grandma.


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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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