We have often been diagnosed [with ample justification], as suffering from the chronic pathology of optimism, which we would prefer expressed, as “idealistic imagination.” The following writing, was created during one of our recurrent bouts, of that malady.
We have, tirelessly, maintained, that the recognition of the universal and eternal replication, of mankind’s classic issues, as portrayed in great literature and the arts (see for example, the previous mini-essay, “Hamlet in Iran”), is contemporary mankind’s available reservoir of wisdom and mature perspective. The great American writer, William Faulkner, is known to have written: “The past is not dead. It is not even past.”
The idealistic and imaginative question, we would raise is: if history eternally, repeats itself, and history is perforce made by man’s behaviors and action, is it empirically possible, to eliminate the eternal existence of tragedy, by a knowledgeable, and dedicated, alteration, where needed, of man’s faulty perspective, and thereby, his behavior? Put another way, does the historical existence of the classically analogous, recurring issues, a mandatory predicate for humanity? Or is there something better? Is tragedy and suffering, baked, by some evolutionary phenomena, into the human persona? We think not, but we are, after all, confessed, pathological optimists.
Recent, spectacular, and endlessly promising, advances and discoveries, have been made, in the scientific study of the human genome, in the prediction and [hopefully, soon] scientific amendment, of the undesirable features of targeted genes, thereby averting the illness, therein, chemically dictated.
Could there exist, in analogous fashion, a non-scientific, empirical possibility, that a useful protocol, or method of analysis, can be developed, to indicate objectively, an individual’s potential inclination, towards wrongful, excessive and other, anti-social behavior. If so, might not the therapeutic disciplines of medicine and/or psychology, be utilized, as preventative avenues of reference, regarding such miscreant behavior, for the mutual benefit of the relevant individual, and of society?
Down through the ages, man has unsuccessfully attempted, by means of various primitive conceits, and accepted folklore, to predict the character and potential behavior of human beings. In the Elizabethan age, we have Shakespeare’s concerned, statement in Julius Caesar, “Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look.” The 18Th and 19th Century, saw the theory of “Phrenology,” the analysis of individual’s persona and capabilities, by observing the bumps on their head, later, travesties took place, such as the Salem Witch Trials, the evil practice of burning of old, and haggard, looking women, as “witches”; the 19th Century, featured the popular theories of Lombroso, viz., the prediction of criminality, by the discernment of “atavistic” (Stone Age) traits, in an individual’s appearance.
The foregoing instances of futile attempts, to predict the inclinations of man, were, predictably debunked. However, we would choose to raise a compelling question, as to the possible facility, of using modern and rational methods of medical and psychological science, to identify and prevent, the existence of an inclination for potential, anti-social behavior? Is it possible that an experienced, capability of the discernment of empirically relevant, nuanced characteristics, in participating individuals, to be societally and personally useful, in this endeavor? At a minimum, it would seem, at least, worthwhile to consider such possibility, and, positively, engage in such novel, targeted programs.
Prescribed sessions of regular psychological visits, (“check-ups”) especially in the developmental stage of younger people, similar to regular doctor and dentist examinations, could, prove valuable to the life of the participating individual and to his society. Routine inquiries, regarding developmental issues, phobias, insecurity, fears, disappointments and frustrations, anger and impulse management, sexual and gender issues, abuse, undue shyness or assertion, may prove beneficial in furnishing early solutions to many unspoken problems. With respect to adults, any of the areas, cited above, as relevant, might be explored. Additional adult subjects, such as perception of failure, perseverations concerning social, political, personal injustice, inclinations and “innate,” prejudices, social and financial issues, disability, aging, and other compelling personal issues, explicit or unconsciously feared, might be productively discussed and explored.
Such programs of (at a minimum) annual, personal check-ups, psychological as well as medical, could prove to be of vital importance to the quality of life of the participant; and, in terms of the possible avoidance, of mass shootings, assaults and other, anti-social behaviors, of existential importance, to society and its members. Thoughtfully construed, implementing legal requirements, as necessary, would not amount to, an “invasion of liberty,” at least, no more than required school attendance (at certain ages), taxes, registration of automobiles, and other routine, citizenship duties; all part and parcel, of each individual’s “Social Contract.